Amphibians are a classical object for physiological studies, and they are of great value for developmental studies owing to their transition from an aquatic larval form to an adult form with a terrestrial lifestyle. Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum) are of special interest for such studies because of their neoteny and facultative pedomorphosis, as in these animals, metamorphosis can be induced and fully controlled in laboratory conditions. It has been suggested that their metamorphosis, associated with gross anatomical changes in the heart, also involves physiological and electrical remodeling of the myocardium. We used whole-cell patch clamp to investigate possible changes caused by metamorphosis in electrical activity and major ionic currents in cardiomyocytes isolated from paedomorphic and metamorphic axolotls. T4-induced metamorphosis caused shortening of atrial and ventricular action potentials (APs), with no changes in resting membrane potential or maximum velocity of AP upstroke, favoring higher heart rate possible in metamorphic animals. Potential-dependent potassium currents in axolotl myocardium were represented by delayed rectifier currents IKr and IKs, and upregulation of IKs caused by metamorphosis probably underlies AP shortening. Metamorphosis was associated with downregulation of inward rectifier current IK1, probably serving to increase the excitability of myocardium in metamorphic animals. Metamorphosis also led to a slight increase in fast sodium current INa with no changes in its steady-state kinetics and to a significant upregulation of ICa in both atrial and ventricular cells, indicating stronger Ca2+ influx for higher cardiac contractility in metamorphic salamanders. Taken together, these changes serve to increase cardiac reserve in metamorphic animals.

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