Basal nonselective cation permeability in rat cardiac microvascular endothelial cells
The presence of a basal nonselective cation permeability was mainly investigated in primary cultures of rat cardiac microvascular endothelial cells (CMEC) by applying both the patch-clamp technique and Fura-2 microfluorimetry. With low EGTA in the pipette solution, the resting membrane potential of CMEC was -21.2 ± 1.1 mV, and a Ca2+-activated Cl- conductance was present. When the intracellular Ca2+ was buffered with high EGTA, the membrane potential decreased to 5.5 ± 1.2 mV. In this condition, full or partial substitution of external Na+ by NMDG+ proportionally reduced the inward component of the basal I-V relationship. This current was dependent on extracellular monovalent cations with a permeability sequence of K+ > Cs+ > Na+ > Li+ and was inhibited by Ca2+, La3+, Gd3+, and amiloride. The K+/Na+ permeability ratio, determined using the Goldman-Hodgkin-Katz equation, was 2.01. The outward component of the basal I-V relationship was reduced when intracellular K+ was replaced by NMDG+, but was not sensitive to substitution by Cs+. Finally, microfluorimetric experiments indicated the existence of a basal Ca2+ entry pathway, inhibited by La3+ and Gd3+. The basal nonselective cation permeability in CMEC could be involved both in the control of myocardial ionic homeostasis, according to the model of the blood-heart barrier, and in the modulation of Ca2+-dependent processes.