Immunohistochemical analysis of the adaptation of adult guinea-pig cardiomyocytes in long-term cultures and in cocultures with cardiac neurons: A novel model for studies of myocardial function
OBJECTIVE To determine the capacity of ATP to modify cardiomyocytes directly or indirectly via peripheral autonomic neurones, the effects of various purinergic agents were studied on long term cultures of adult guinea pig ventricular myocytes and their co-cultures with extracardiac (stellate ganglion) or intrinsic cardiac neurones. METHODS Ventricular myocytes and cardiac neurones were enzymatically dissociated and plated together or alone (myocytes only). Myocyte cultures were used for experiments after three to six weeks. The electrical and contractile properties of cultured myocytes and myocyte-neuronal networks were investigated. RESULTS The spontaneous beating frequency of ventricular myocytes co-cultured with stellate ganglion neurones increased by approximately 140% (p < 0.001) following superfusion with 10(-5) M ATP. This effect was not modified significantly by tetrodotoxin or by beta adrenoceptor blockade (10(-5) M timolol), but was eliminated following application of the P2 antagonist suramin (10(-5) M). Basal spontaneous contractile rate was reduced by approximately 86% (p < 0.001) in the presence of suramin, indicating the existence of tonically active purinergic synaptic mechanisms in stellate ganglion neurone-myocyte cocultures. Suramin did not significantly affect non-innervated myocyte cultures. ATP increased myocyte contractile rate in intrinsic cardiac neurone-myocyte co-cultures by approximately 40% (p < 0.01) under control conditions, but when beta adrenergic receptors of tetrodotoxin sensitive neural responses were blocked, ATP induced greater augmentation (> 100%). In contrast, ATP induced much smaller effects in non-innervated myocyte cultures (approximately 26%, p < 0.01). Analogues of AT) showed the following order of potency: ATP > UTP > MSATP > beta gamma ATP > alpha beta ATP. Adenosine (10(-4) M) attenuated the beating frequency of myocytes in both types of co-culture, while not significantly affecting non-innervated myocyte cultures. CONCLUSIONS The experimental model used in this study showed that extrinsic and intrinsic cardiac neurones which possess P2 receptors can greatly enhance cardiac myocyte contractile rate when activated by ATP. Since adenosine reduced contractile rate in both types of co-cultures while not affecting non-innervated myocytes, it is concluded that some of these neurones possess P1 receptors.