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.