Two types of Ca2+ currents are found in bovine chromaffin cells: facilitation is due to the recruitment of one type

J Physiol. 1991 Jan;432:681-707. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.1991.sp018406.


1. Whole-cell Ca2+ currents in cultured bovine chromaffin cells were studied using patch-clamp electrophysiology. With Ba2+ or Ca2+ as the current carriers, two separate components of whole-cell current could be distinguished by biophysical and pharmacological criteria. These components of Ca2+ current were different from T- or N-type Ca2+ channels previously described, as they were not inactivated at a holding potential of -60 mV. 2. Depolarization of the cells past -20 mV in 10 mM-Ba2+ activated a single component of Ca2+ current, called the 'standard' current. This current showed no detectable voltage-dependent inactivation, but did show marked current-dependent inactivation as steady-state inactivation (H-infinity) plots obtained in the presence of Ba2+ were quite different from those obtained from Ca2+. 3. In most chromaffin cells large pre-depolarizations or repetitive depolarizations in the physiological range activated a second component of Ca2+ current called 'facilitation'. Facilitation was observed with either Ca2+ or Ba2+ as the charge carrier. Recruiting facilitation increased whole-cell currents by an average of 60%. 4. Pre-pulses to +120 mV lasting 200 ms completely activated facilitation. Pre-pulses longer than 800 ms started to inactivate facilitation, while pre-pulses longer than 2500 ms completely inactivated this component of Ca2+ current. Because only outward currents were recorded at +120 mV, it is likely that facilitation inactivated in a voltage-dependent manner. 5. When the extracellular Ba2+ concentration was increased in the range from 2 to 90 mM activation of both facilitation and standard Ca2+ currents shifted in the depolarizing direction. In 2 mM-Ba2+ facilitation activated at potentials 10 mV more negative than the standard component, while in 90 mM-Ba2+, facilitation activated at a potential about 10 mV more depolarized than the standard component. Thus, the voltage sensor for the facilitation Ca2+ current appeared to sense more surface charge than did the standard Ca2+ current. 6. Tail currents measured at -20 and -30 mV in the absence of facilitation (without pre-pulses) showed one time constant for current deactivation. Tail currents measured with both facilitation and standard currents activated showed a significantly slower deactivation rate than that seen with the standard current alone. 7. The dihydropyridine antagonist nisoldipine (1 microM) completely suppressed the facilitation Ca2+ current even when cells were held at negative holding potentials (-80 mV). In contrast, the standard current was unaffected by 1 microM-nisoldipine, even at depolarized holding potentials (-20 mV).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Pyridinecarboxylic acid, 1,4-dihydro-2,6-dimethyl-5-nitro-4-(2-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)-, Methyl ester / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Channels / drug effects
  • Calcium Channels / physiology*
  • Cattle / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromaffin Granules / metabolism*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Nisoldipine / pharmacology


  • Calcium Channels
  • Nisoldipine
  • 3-Pyridinecarboxylic acid, 1,4-dihydro-2,6-dimethyl-5-nitro-4-(2-(trifluoromethyl)phenyl)-, Methyl ester
  • Calcium