Lead is a heavy metal pollutant that constitutes frequent exposomes. It is nonbiodegradable and has a nonsafe limit of exposure. It has multisystemic effects, and most of the cardiac effects have been discovered to be indirect. There are strong similarities between Ca2+ and Pb2+ in their chemistry. Because cardiac function is dramatically dependent in extracellular Ca2+, as well as in precise control of intracellular Ca2+, we tested if Pb2+ could antagonize Ca2+-dependent effects in a short amount of time. Acute exposure of isolated hearts showed a negative inotropic effect. In guinea pig isolated cardiomyocytes loaded with a Pb2+-specific dye (Leadmium green), our results showed that there was an associated increment in fluorescence related to extracellular stimulation blocked by 1–5 µM DHP. Calcium currents were partially blocked by extracellular Pb2+, though currents seemed to last longer after a fast inactivation. Charge movement from gating currents was slightly hastened over time, giving an appearance of a slight reduction in the Cav1.2 gating currents. Action potentials were prolonged in Pb2+ compared with Ca2+. In isolated cardiomyocytes loaded with Ca2+-sensitive dyes, Ca2+ variations promoted by extracellular stimuli were affected in space/time. As Pb2+ could interfere with Ca2+-sensitive dyes, we measured contraction of isolated cardiomyocytes under extracellular stimuli in Pb2+. In both Ca2+ dye fluorescence and contractions, Pb2+ disorganizes the pattern of contraction and intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis. Our results suggest that (1) Pb2+ enters to cardiomyocytes through Cav1.2 channels, and (2) once it enters the cell, Pb2+ may substitute Ca2+ in Ca2+-binding proteins. In addition to these direct mechanisms related to Pb2+ competition with Ca2+-binding sites, we cannot discard a direct contribution of Pb2+ redox properties.

This work was funded by Comisión Sectorial de Investigación Científica (CSIC), Universidad de la República, and Programa de Desarrollo de las Ciencias Básicas (PEDECIBA).

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