The Connection Between Stress and Ca²⁺ATPase

Most of us are aware that stress is bad for your heart. It turns out that one reason may be the negative impact stress has on our Ca²⁺ATPase levels.

A 2012 research study was the first to examine the effect of social stress on Ca²⁺ATPase levels in the heart.

It’s hard to quantify stress in human subjects, so the researchers used rats. Chronic social stress was induced by setting up mixed- sex housing. In such situations, hierarchies of male dominance develop where subordinate rats can be identified through various submissive behaviors, wound patterns, and body weight. This design closely resembles the loss of social control in humans . The rats at the bottom of the ladder were identified as the stressed group and their Ca²⁺ATPase levels were compared to a control group of rats housed in normal conditions.

The rats who experienced social stress had 40% lower Ca²⁺ATPase levels in the heart than the animals in the control group. These same animals had cardiac problems that mimicked heart failure.


[1] Chronic Social Stress Induces Cardiomyocyte Contractile Dysfunction and Intracellular Ca2+ Derangement in Rats. Turdi S, Yuan M, Leedy G, Wu Z, Ren J. Physiol Behav 2012 Jan 18; 105(2):498-509.