The function or expression of subtypes of the sodium ion (Na+) channel is altered in biopsies or cultures of skeletal muscle from many persons who are susceptible to malignant hyperthermia (MH). ATX II, a specific Na+ channel toxin from a sea anemone, causes delayed inactivation of the channel similar to that seen in cell cultures of MH muscle. ATX II was added to skeletal muscle to determine whether altered Na (+) channel function could increase the sensitivity of normal skeletal muscle to agents (halothane, caffeine, ryanodine) to which MH muscle is hypersensitive.Methods
Studies were performed of fiber bundles from the vastus lateralis muscle of persons who were deemed not MH susceptible (MH-) or MH susceptible (MH+) according to the MH diagnostic test and of strips of diaphragm muscle from rats. Preparations in a tissue bath containing Krebs solution were connected to a force transducer. ATX II was introduced 5 min before halothane, caffeine, or ryanodine.Results
ATX II increased the magnitude of contracture to halothane in preparations from most MH-, but not MH+, human participants. After ATX II treatment, preparations from 9 of 24 MH- participants generated contractures to halothane, 3%, that were of the same magnitude as those from MH+ participants. Preparations from four of six ATX II-treated healthy participants also have responses of the same magnitude as those of MH-susceptible participants to a graded halothane challenge (0.5–3%). The contractures to bolus doses of halothane in specimens from male participants were more than three times larger than the contractures in specimens from female participants. In rat muscle, ATX II increased the magnitude of contracture to caffeine (2 mM) and decreased the time to produce a 1-g contracture to ryanodine (1 [micro sign]M).Conclusions
ATX II, which causes delayed inactivation of the Na+ channel in cell cultures similar to that reported in cultures of MH+ skeletal muscle, increased the sensitivity of normal muscle to three agents to which MH+ muscle is hypersensitive. The increased sensitivity to halothane, 3%, occurred in most (79%), but not all, MH- participants, and this effect was most evident in male participants. Therefore, abnormal function of the Na+ channel, even if it is a secondary event in MH, may contribute to a positive contracture test result for MH.