Background: Halothane has been reported to sensitize Ca(2+) release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR), which is thought to contribute to its initial positive inotropic effect. However, little is known about whether isoflurane or sevoflurane affect the SR Ca(2+) release process, which may contribute to the inotropic profile of these anesthetics.
Methods: Mild Ca(2+) overload was induced in isolated rat ventricular myocytes by increase of extracellular Ca(2+) to 2 mM. The resultant Ca(2+) transients due to spontaneous Ca(2+) release from the SR were detected optically (fura-2). Cells were exposed to 0.6 mM anesthetic for a period of 4 min, and the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous Ca(2+) transients were measured.
Results: Halothane caused a temporary threefold increase in frequency and decreased the amplitude (to 54% of control) of spontaneous Ca(2+) transients. Removal of halothane inhibited spontaneous Ca release before it returned to control. In contrast, sevoflurane initially inhibited frequency of Ca(2+) release (to 10% of control), whereas its removal induced a burst of spontaneous Ca(2+) release. Isoflurane had no significant effect on either frequency or amplitude of spontaneous Ca(2+) release on application or removal. Sevoflurane was able to ameliorate the effects of halothane on the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous Ca(2+) release both on application and wash-off.
Conclusions: Application of halothane and removal of sevoflurane sensitize the SR Ca(2+) release process (and vice versa on removal). Sevoflurane reversed the effects of halothane, suggesting they may act at the same subcellular target on the SR.