Stretch modulation of cardiac contractility: importance of myocyte calcium during the slow force response

  • Sarbjot Kaur
  • Xin Shen
  • Amelia Power
  • Marie-Louise WardEmail author


The mechanical response of the heart to myocardial stretch has been understood since the work of muscle physiologists more than 100 years ago, whereby an increase in ventricular chamber filling during diastole increases the subsequent force of contraction. The stretch-induced increase in contraction is biphasic. There is an abrupt increase in the force that coincides with the stretch (the rapid response), which is then followed by a slower response that develops over several minutes (the slow force response, or SFR). The SFR is associated with a progressive increase in the magnitude of the Ca2+ transient, the event that initiates myocyte cross-bridge cycling and force development. However, the mechanisms underlying the stretch-dependent increase in the Ca2+ transient are still debated. This review outlines recent literature on the SFR and summarizes the different stretch-activated Ca2+ entry pathways. The SFR might result from a combination of several different cellular mechanisms initiated in response to activation of different cellular stretch sensors.


Cardiac stretch Calcium influx Slow force response Stretch-activated channels Autocrine/paracrine response G-coupled protein receptors 


Funding information

We acknowledge funding from the University of Auckland Faculty Research and Development Fund and the Auckland Medical Research Foundation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Human and animal rights and informed consent

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medical and Health SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute for Experimental Medical ResearchOslo University Hospital and University of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.K.G.Jebsen Center for Cardiac ResearchOsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of PhysiologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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