Response to exercise and mechanical efficiency in non-ischaemic stunning, induced by short-term rapid pacing in dogs: a role for calcium?

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Rapid pacing (RP) is a regularly used model to induce heart failure in dogs. The aim of the study was to evaluate Ca2+ handling, left ventricular (LV) contractile response during Ca2+ administration compared to exercise, as well as oxygen consumption and mechanical efficiency after 48 h of RP.


Fifty-three mongrel dogs were instrumented to measure LV pressure, LV fractional shortening, regional wall thickening and coronary blood flow. Contractile reserve was measured with isoproterenol and intravenous (IV) Ca2+ administration. To assess the function of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), post-extrasystolic potentiation (PESP) and SR Ca2+ uptake were measured. A graded treadmill test was performed in baseline and after RP (n = 14). In a separate group of animals (n = 5), myocardial performance and oxygen consumption were measured using a wide range of loading conditions.


Left ventricular contractility was significantly decreased upon cessation of pacing. The contractile response to isoproterenol was blunted compared to a preserved response to IV Ca2+. Post-extrasystolic potentiation was slightly increased after RP. Maximal velocity (Vmax) of SR Ca2+ uptake was unchanged. Contractile response during exercise is attenuated after RP. External work is reduced, whereas oxygen consumption is preserved, provoking a reduced mechanical efficiency.


Forty-eight-hours RP provokes a reversible LV dysfunction, while the SR function and response to exogenous Ca2+ are preserved. This is compatible with an intracellular functional remodelling to counteract Ca2+ overload provoked by RP. Left ventricular dysfunction is accompanied by a reduced contractile reserve, but an unchanged oxygen consumption, illustrating an alteration in oxygen utilization.

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