AIM:Dantrolene interacts with ryanodine receptors in skeletal and cardiac muscle affecting sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium release. Since dantrolene is lipophilic it could also affect intra-sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium handling proteins such as calsequestrin. This study investigated whether dantrolene (1-30 µmol/L) alters the polymerization state and the calcium binding capacity of recombinant cardiac calsequestrin and cardiac sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium handling. METHODS:Human recombinant cardiac calsequestrin was used to make simultaneous measurements of turbidity (to indicate calsequestrin polymerization) and calcium binding to calsequestrin in the presence and absence of dantrolene. Caffeine-induced Ca2+ transients were used to investigate the effects of dantrolene on sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium loading and release in saponin-permeabilized cardiomyocytes laid down in monolayers in 96-well array plates. RESULTS:Dantrolene (1-30 µmol/L) increased the polymerization state of calsequestrin and its calcium binding capacity. In the presence of dantrolene, calsequestrin-dependent turbidity increased 2.5-11.5-fold at 1.0 mmol/L calcium added to unbuffered Ca2+ solutions and 3-10-fold when calcium was raised from 0.06 to 30 µmol/L. The dantrolene-dependent increase in turbidity at 30 µmol/L dantrolene was associated with a 3-fold increase in the number of calcium ions bound per calsequestrin molecule at 30 and 100 µmol/L calcium. The caffeine-induced releasable calcium loaded by the sarcoplasmic reticulum at 0.63 µmol/L free calcium in permeabilized cardiomyocytes was also increased in the presence of 30 µmol/L dantrolene. CONCLUSION:Dantrolene alters the polymerization state and the calcium binding properties of cardiac calsequestrin and increases sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium loading in permeabilized cardiomyocytes.