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REVIEW: Cardiovascular Effects of Carnosine

P. R. Roberts1* and G. P. Zaloga2

1Department of Anesthesiology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Medical Center Blvd., Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1009, USA

2Department of Medicine, Washington Hospital Center, 110 Irving St., NW, Washington, DC 20010, USA

* To whom correspondence should be addressed.

Received December 17, 1999
Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine) is an endogenous dipeptide found in various cells at millimolar concentration with its specific function(s) largely unknown. Our interests in therapeutic peptides led to the discovery that carnosine dramatically increases contractility when perfused into isolated rat hearts. Carnosine's effects are not mediated by histaminic or beta-adrenergic receptors or by increasing cyclic AMP, but carnosine does cause a rise in myoplasmic Ca2+ concentration. In chemically skinned cardiac cells, carnosine releases calcium, produces contracture, and alters the contractile protein's tension response to calcium. Carnosine also acts directly on the ryanodine receptor calcium release channel producing large increases in open state probability and dwelltime. In this manuscript, we will review studies which provide a basis for considering carnosine a modulator of calcium-regulated proteins in cardiac muscle cells and consequently an important determinant of contractility and cardiac function.
KEY WORDS: carnosine, isolated rat heart, calcium ion, calcium channels, ryanodine receptor