Ruled by waves? Intracellular and intercellular calcium signalling

Acta Physiol Scand. 2000 Jul;169(3):203-19. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201x.2000.00732.x.


The field of calcium signalling has evolved rapidly the last 20 years. Physiologists had worked with cytosolic Ca2+ as the coupler of excitation and contraction of muscles and as a secretory signal in exocrine glands and in the synapses of the brain for several decades before the discovery of cellular calcium as a second messenger. Development of powerful techniques for measuring the concentration of cytosolic free calcium ions in cell suspensions and later in single cells and even in different cellular compartments, has resulted in an upsurge in the knowledge of the cellular machinery involved in intracellular calcium signalling. However, the focus on intracellular mechanisms might have led this field of study away from physiology. During the last few years there is an increasing evidence for an important role of calcium also as an intercellular signal. Via gap junctions calcium is able to co-ordinate cell populations and even organs like the liver. Here we will give an overview of the general mechanisms of intracellular calcium signalling, and then review the recent data on intercellular calcium signals. A functional coupling of cells in different tissues and organs by the way of calcium might be an important mechanism for controlling and synchronizing physiological responses

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cell Compartmentation
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Exocrine Glands / metabolism
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Second Messenger Systems / physiology*
  • Synapses / metabolism


  • Calcium