Computational Modeling of Spatiotemporal Ca(2+) Signal Propagation Along Hepatocyte Cords

IEEE Trans Biomed Eng. 2016 Oct;63(10):2047-55. doi: 10.1109/TBME.2016.2550045. Epub 2016 Apr 4.


Objective: The purpose of this study is to model the dynamics of lobular Ca(2+) wave propagation induced by an extracellular stimulus, and to analyze the effect of spatially systematic variations in cell-intrinsic signaling parameters on sinusoidal Ca(2+) response.

Methods: We developed a computational model of lobular scale Ca(2+) signaling that accounts for receptor- mediated initiation of cell-intrinsic Ca(2+) signal in hepatocytes and its propagation to neighboring hepatocytes through gap junction-mediated molecular exchange.

Results: Analysis of the simulations showed that a pericentral-to-periportal spatial gradient in hormone sensitivity and/or rates of IP3 synthesis underlies the Ca(2+) wave propagation. We simulated specific cases corresponding to localized disruptions in the graded pattern of these parameters along a hepatic sinusoid. Simulations incorporating locally altered parameters exhibited Ca(2+) waves that do not propagate throughout the hepatic plate. Increased gap junction coupling restored normal Ca(2+) wave propagation when hepatocytes with low Ca(2+) signaling ability were localized in the midlobular or the pericentral region.

Conclusion: Multiple spatial patterns in intracellular signaling parameters can lead to Ca(2+) wave propagation that is consistent with the experimentally observed spatial patterns of Ca(2+) dynamics. Based on simulations and analysis, we predict that increased gap junction-mediated intercellular coupling can induce robust Ca(2+) signals in otherwise poorly responsive hepatocytes, at least partly restoring the sinusoidally oriented Ca (2+) waves.

Significance: Our bottom-up model of agonist-evoked spatial Ca(2+) patterns can be integrated with detailed descriptions of liver histology to study Ca(2+) regulation at the tissue level.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Models, Biological*
  • Receptors, Vasopressin / metabolism


  • Receptors, Vasopressin