Aerobic capacity decreases with age, in part because of an age-dependent decline in maximum heart rate (mHR) and a reduction in the intrinsic pacemaker activity of the sinoatrial node of the heart. Isolated sinoatrial node myocytes (SAMs) from aged mice have slower spontaneous action potential (AP) firing rates and a hyperpolarizing shift in the voltage dependence of activation of the “funny current,” If. Cyclic AMP (cAMP) is a critical modulator of both AP firing rate and If in SAMs. Here, we test the ability of endogenous and exogenous cAMP to overcome age-dependent changes in acutely isolated murine SAMs. We found that maximal stimulation of endogenous cAMP with 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) and forskolin significantly increased AP firing rate and depolarized the voltage dependence of activation of If in SAMs from both young and aged mice. However, these changes were insufficient to overcome the deficits in aged SAMs, and significant age-dependent differences in AP firing rate and If persisted in the presence of IBMX and forskolin. In contrast, the effects of aging on SAMs were completely abolished by a high concentration of exogenous cAMP, which restored AP firing rate and If activation to youthful levels in cells from aged animals. Interestingly, the age-dependent differences in AP firing rates and If were similar in whole-cell and perforated-patch recordings, and the hyperpolarizing shift in If persisted in excised inside-out patches, suggesting a limited role for cAMP in causing these changes. Collectively, the data indicate that aging does not impose an absolute limit on pacemaker activity and that it does not act by simply reducing the concentration of freely diffusible cAMP in SAMs.
- Submitted: 25 July 2016
- Revision received 9 November 2016
- Accepted: 22 November 2016
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