Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 343, Issue 1–2, pp 107–113 | Cite as

Cell swelling impairs dye coupling in adult rat ventricular myocytes. Cell volume as a regulator of cell communication

  • Walmor C. De Mello


The influence of cell swelling on cell communication was investigated in cardiomyocytes isolated from the ventricle of adult rats. Measurements of dye coupling were performed in cell pairs using intracellular dialysis of Lucifer Yellow CH. The pipette was attached to one cell of the pair and after a gig ohm seal was achieved, the membrane was ruptured by a brief suction allowing the dye to diffuse from the pipette into the cell. Fluorescence of the dye in the injected as well as in non-dialyzed cell of the pair was continuously monitored. The results indicate that in cell pairs exposed to hypotonic solution the cell volume was increased by about 60% within 35 min and the dye coupling was significantly reduced by cell swelling. Calculation of gap junction permeability (P j) assuming an the intracellular volume accessible to intracellular diffusion of the dye as 12% of total cell volume, showed an average P j value of 0.16 ± 0.04 × 10−4 cm/s (n = 35) in the control and 0.89 ± 1.1 × 10−5 cm (n = 40) for cells exposed to hypotonic solution (P < 0.05). Similar results were found assuming intracellular volumes accessible to the dye of 20 and 30% of total cell volume, respectively. Cell swelling did not change the rate of intracellular diffusion of the dye. The results which indicate that cell volume is an important regulator of gap junction permeability, have important implications to myocardial ischemia and heart failure as well as to heart pharmacology because changes in cell volume caused by drugs and transmitters can impair cell communication with consequent generation of slow conduction and cardiac arrhythmias.


Cell volume Dye coupling Heart myocardial Ischemia pharmacology 



This work was supported by Grants GM 61838 and G12RR03051 from NIH.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pharmacology, School of MedicineUPRSan JuanUSA

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