Calcium requirements for secretion in bovine chromaffin cells

J Physiol. 1992 May;450:247-71. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1992.sp019126.


1. Measurements of membrane capacitance and intracellular Ca2+ concentration, [Ca2+]i, were used to examine the Ca2+ dependence of secretion in single adrenal chromaffin cells. 2. Intracellular dialysis of Ca2+, through a patch pipette, promoted secretion; the rate of secretion increased monotonically as [Ca2+]i was elevated, while the total amount of secretion reached a maximum at 1.5 microM-Ca2+ and declined at high [Ca2+]i. 3. Release of Ca2+ from internal stores, using bradykinin or ionomycin, transiently elevated [Ca2+]i and the rate of secretion. 4. Considering responses to both Ca2+ dialysis and release from internal stores, it appears that the rate of secretion increases over a range of [Ca2+]i levels above 0.2 microM and saturates at concentrations greater than 10 microM, if at all. Secretion appears to have a Hill coefficient for Ca2+ of about 2. At [Ca2+]i greater than 1-2 microM, prolonged elevation of [Ca2+]i, via dialysis, produced lower rates of secretion than transient elevation of [Ca2+]i caused by release from internal stores. This may have been caused by a depletion of readily releasable chromaffin granules during prolonged elevation of [Ca2+]i. 5. Brief depolarizing pulses produced transient rises in both [Ca2+]i and the rate of secretion. The ability of these pulses to evoke secretion 'washed out' during prolonged intracellular dialysis, due to both reduced Ca2+ influx and a diminished ability of the cell to secrete in response to a given Ca2+ load. 6. The kinetics of the secretory response depended upon the size of the depolarization-induced Ca2+ load; small rises in [Ca2+]i increased membrane capacitance only during the depolarization, while larger rises in [Ca2+]i produced increases both during and following the depolarization. The secretory responses that outlasted the depolarization appeared to be due to persistent elevation of [Ca2+]i. Secretory responses were sometimes followed by a slower decline in membrane capacitance, probably due to endocytosis of membrane. 7. Comparison of the rates of secretion measured during depolarization to those produced by Ca2+ dialysis or release from internal stores suggests that [Ca2+]i at secretory sites can exceed 10 microM during depolarization. The spatially averaged measurements of [Ca2+]i indicate much smaller levels of [Ca2+]i; thus, there must be pronounced spatial gradients of [Ca2+]i during depolarization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Glands / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electrophysiology
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology


  • Calcium