Diabetes mellitus (DM) has significant effects on cardiac calcium (Ca2+) and sodium (Na⁺) regulation. Clinical studies have shown that empagliflozin (Jardiance™) has cardiovascular benefits, however the mechanisms have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed to investigate whether empagliflozin modulates cardiac electrical activity as well as Ca2+/Na⁺ homeostasis in DM cardiomyopathy. Electrocardiography, echocardiography, whole-cell patch-clamp, confocal microscopic examinations, and Western blot, were performed in the ventricular myocytes of control and streptozotocin-induced DM rats, with or without empagliflozin (10 mg/kg for 4 weeks). The results showed that the control and empagliflozin-treated DM rats had smaller left ventricular end-diastolic diameters and shorter QT intervals than the DM rats. In addition, the prolonged action potential duration in the DM rats was attenuated in the empagliflozin-treated DM rats. Moreover, the DM rats had smaller sarcoplasmic reticular Ca2+ contents, intracellular Ca2+ transients, L-type Ca2+, reverse mode Na⁺-Ca2+exchanger currents, lower protein expressions of sarcoplasmic reticulum ATPase, ryanodine receptor 2 (RyR2), but higher protein expressions of phosphorylated RyR2 at serine 2808 than the control and empagliflozin-treated DM rats. The incidence and frequency of Ca2+ sparks, cytosolic and mitochondrial reactive oxygen species, and late Na⁺ current and Na⁺/hydrogen-exchanger currents were greater in the DM rats than in the control and empagliflozin-treated DM rats. Empagliflozin significantly changed Ca2+ regulation, late Na⁺ and Na⁺/hydrogen-exchanger currents and electrophysiological characteristics in DM cardiomyopathy, which may contribute to its cardioprotective benefits in DM patients.
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