Monitoring presynaptic calcium dynamics in projection fibers by in vivo loading of a novel calcium indicator

Neuron. 2000 Jul;27(1):25-32. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)00006-4.


Fluorometric calcium measurements have revealed presynaptic residual calcium (Ca(res)) to be an important regulator of synaptic strength. However, in the mammalian brain, it has not been possible to monitor Ca(res) in fibers that project from one brain region to another. Here, we label neuronal projections by injecting dextran-conjugated calcium indicators into brain nuclei in vivo. Currently available dextran conjugates distort Ca(res) due to their high affinity for calcium. Therefore, we synthesized a low-affinity indicator, fluo-4 dextran, that can more accurately measure the amplitude and time course of Ca(res). We then demonstrate the utility of fluo-4 dextran by measuring Ca(res) at climbing fiber presynaptic terminals. This method promises to facilitate the study of many synapses in the mammalian CNS, both in brain slices and in vivo.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aniline Compounds
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Dextrans
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Nerve Fibers / metabolism*
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Presynaptic / metabolism*
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence
  • Xanthenes


  • Aniline Compounds
  • Dextrans
  • Fluo 4
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Receptors, Presynaptic
  • Xanthenes
  • Calcium