Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

We compared commonly used BAPTA-derived chemical Ca2+ dyes (fura2, Fluo-4, and Rhod-2) with a newer genetically encoded indicator (R-GECO) in single cell models of the heart. We assessed their performance and effects on cardiomyocyte contractility, determining fluorescent signal-to-noise ratios and sarcomere shortening in primary ventricular myocytes from adult mouse and guinea pig, and in human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. Chemical Ca2+ dyes displayed dose-dependent contractile impairment in all cell types, and we observed a negative correlation between contraction and fluorescence signal-to-noise ratio, particularly for fura2 and Fluo-4. R-GECO had no effect on sarcomere shortening. BAPTA-based dyes, but not R-GECO, inhibited in vitro acto-myosin ATPase activity. The presence of fura2 accentuated or diminished changes in contractility and Ca2+ handling caused by small molecule modulators of contractility and intracellular ionic homeostasis (mavacamten, levosimendan, and flecainide), but this was not observed when using R-GECO in adult guinea pig left ventricular cardiomyocytes. Ca2+ handling studies are necessary for cardiotoxicity assessments of small molecules intended for clinical use. Caution should be exercised when interpreting small molecule studies assessing contractile effects and Ca2+ transients derived from BAPTA-like chemical Ca2+ dyes in cellular assays, a common platform for cardiac toxicology testing and mechanistic investigation of cardiac disease physiology and treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


J Mol Cell Cardiol

Publication Date





44 - 57


Ca2+ handling, Ca2+ indicators, Cardiomyocyte, Contractility, RGECO, Animals, Guinea Pigs, Humans, Mice, Calcium, Coloring Agents, Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, Myocardial Contraction, Myocytes, Cardiac, Swine