Bidirectional calcium signaling between satellite glial cells and neurons in cultured mouse trigeminal ganglia

Neuron Glia Biol. 2010 Feb;6(1):43-51. doi: 10.1017/S1740925X09990408. Epub 2009 Nov 6.


Astrocytes communicate with neurons, endothelial and other glial cells through transmission of intercellular calcium signals. Satellite glial cells (SGCs) in sensory ganglia share several properties with astrocytes, but whether this type of communication occurs between SGCs and sensory neurons has not been explored. In the present work we used cultured neurons and SGCs from mouse trigeminal ganglia to address this question. Focal electrical or mechanical stimulation of single neurons in trigeminal ganglion cultures increased intracellular calcium concentration in these cells and triggered calcium elevations in adjacent glial cells. Similar to neurons, SGCs responded to mechanical stimulation with increase in cytosolic calcium that spread to the adjacent neuron and neighboring glial cells. Calcium signaling from SGCs to neurons and among SGCs was diminished in the presence of the broad-spectrum P2 receptor antagonist suramin (50 muM) or in the presence of the gap junction blocker carbenoxolone (100 muM), whereas signaling from neurons to SGCs was reduced by suramin, but not by carbenoxolone. Following induction of submandibular inflammation by Complete Freund's Adjuvant injection, the amplitude of signaling among SGCs and from SGCs to neuron was increased, whereas the amplitude from neuron to SGCs was reduced. These results indicate for the first time the presence of bidirectional calcium signaling between neurons and SGCs in sensory ganglia cultures, which is mediated by the activation of purinergic P2 receptors, and to some extent by gap junctions. Furthermore, the results indicate that not only sensory neurons, but also SGCs release ATP. This form of intercellular calcium signaling likely plays key roles in the modulation of neuronal activity within sensory ganglia in normal and pathological states.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / drug effects
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Carbenoxolone / pharmacology
  • Carbenoxolone / therapeutic use
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Electrical Synapses / drug effects
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neuroglia / drug effects
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Purinergic Antagonists
  • Suramin / pharmacology
  • Suramin / therapeutic use
  • Trigeminal Ganglion / cytology*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / chemically induced
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / drug therapy
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / pathology


  • Purinergic Antagonists
  • Suramin
  • Carbenoxolone
  • Calcium