Multiwavelength method for measuring concentration of free cytosolic calcium using the fluorescent probe indo-1

Arch Biochem Biophys. 1988 Feb 15;261(1):91-6. doi: 10.1016/0003-9861(88)90107-5.


It is assumed that the spectra of fluorescent probes indo-1 and fura-2 in the cytoplasm are linear combinations of the spectra of calcium-bound and free probes with weight factors proportional to the concentrations of these forms. When the concentration of calcium is measured by the dual-wavelength method, the above assumption is employed without testing. A multiwavelength method for measuring free cytosolic calcium concentration is described in the present study. The method is based on the registration of the fluorescence spectra of the probe with an optical multichannel analyzer and deconvolution of the spectra into components, corresponding to free and bound forms of the probe. A mismatch is also calculated to allow estimation of deconvolution accuracy. It was found that the spectra, recorded in aqueous calibration solution with varying calcium concentrations, can be deconvoluted into components, obtained both in the absence of calcium and at its saturating concentration. When the spectrum of the probe in the cytoplasm is deconvoluted into the same components the mismatch is higher. When aqueous calibration is used, the cytosolic calcium concentration determined by the dual-wavelength method is dependent considerably on the selected wavelengths. Our data indicate that this phenomenon may be associated with the lower polarity of cytoplasm compared to the aqueous calibration solution. Addition of either ethanol or glycerol into the calibration medium results in a considerable decrease in the mismatch. The optimal concentration of ethanol is 22-32%, and depends on the type and condition of cells tested. It is shown that the use of calibration spectra obtained in aqueous solutions leads to considerable overestimation of cytosolic calcium concentration.

MeSH terms

  • Calcium / analysis*
  • Cytosol / analysis*
  • Fluorescent Dyes*
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Indoles*
  • Lasers
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / instrumentation
  • Spectrometry, Fluorescence / methods


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Indicators and Reagents
  • Indoles
  • indo-1
  • Calcium