Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The aim of this chapter is to discuss evidence concerning the many roles of calcium ions, Ca2+, in cell signaling pathways that control heart function. Before considering details of these signaling pathways, the control of contraction in ventricular muscle by Ca2+ transients accompanying cardiac action potentials is first summarized, together with a discussion of how myocytes from the atrial and pacemaker regions of the heart diverge from this basic scheme. Cell signaling pathways regulate the size and timing of the Ca2+ transients in the different heart regions to influence function. The simplest Ca2+ signaling elements involve enzymes that are regulated by cytosolic Ca2+. Particularly important examples to be discussed are those that are stimulated by Ca2+, including Ca2+-calmodulin-dependent kinase (CaMKII), Ca2+ stimulated adenylyl cyclases, Ca2+ stimulated phosphatase and NO synthases. Another major aspect of Ca2+ signaling in the heart concerns actions of the Ca2+ mobilizing agents, inositol trisphosphate (IP3), cADP-ribose (cADPR) and nicotinic acid adenine dinucleotide phosphate, (NAADP). Evidence concerning roles of these Ca2+ mobilizing agents in different regions of the heart is discussed in detail. The focus of the review will be on short term regulation of Ca2+ transients and contractile function, although it is recognized that Ca2+ regulation of gene expression has important long term functional consequences which will also be briefly discussed.

Original publication




Journal article


Advances in experimental medicine and biology

Publication Date





395 - 443


Department of Pharmacology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.


Heart, Animals, Humans, Calcium, NADP, Cyclic ADP-Ribose, Calcium Signaling, Muscle Contraction