UBC researchers illuminate link between sodium, calcium and heartbeat

Using the Canadian Light Source synchrotron, researchers from UBC have revealed, for the first time, one of the molecular mechanisms that regulates the beating of heart cells by controlling the movement of sodium in out of the cells – and what calcium has to do with it.

The research by Filip van Petegem and Christopher Ahern, both members of UBC’s Cardiovascular Research Group, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings shed new light on this physiological process while revealing the root cause and possible treatment targets of two potentially life-threatening cardiac arrhythmia conditions.
“The heart is an electrical organ that depends on precise electrical signals to contract [and pump blood]” says van Petegem. “It is crucial for heart rate that the signalling, controlled by the movement of sodium, be exact. So the entry of sodium into the cell is tightly regulated.”

Science Codex, Mon Feb 13 2012, Link to full text