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Life Sci. 2002 May 24;71(1):81-9.

Inhibition by nitric oxide of Ca(2+) responses in rat pancreatic alpha-cells.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Shizuoka, 52-1 Yada, Shizuoka-City, Shizuoka 422-8526, Japan.


This study examined the effect of nitric oxide (NO) on the cytosolic free Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](c)) of alpha-cells isolated from rat pancreatic islets. When extracellular glucose was reduced from 7 to 0 mM, about half of the alpha-cells displayed [Ca(2+)](c) oscillations. Nicardipine, a Ca(2+) channel blocker, terminated the oscillations, while thapsigargine, an inhibitor of Ca(2+)-ATPase on the endoplasmic reticulum, did not affect them, suggesting that the [Ca(2+)](c) oscillations were produced by periodic Ca(2+) influx via L-type voltage-operated Ca(2+) channels. NOC 7, an NO donor, did not cause any changes in [Ca(2+)](c) at 7 mM glucose, but reduced [Ca(2+)](c) or terminated [Ca(2+)](c) oscillations at 0 or 2.8 mM glucose. A similar inhibitory effect on [Ca(2+)](c) of alpha-cells was caused by 8-bromo-cGMP. When the [Ca(2+)](c) of alpha-cells was elevated by L-arginine in the presence of N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine, an NO synthase inhibitor, the subsequent application of NOC 7 and 8-bromo-cGMP reduced [Ca(2+)](c). As there is a direct relationship between [Ca(2+)](c) and glucagon release, these results suggest that the NO-cGMP system in rat pancreatic islets reduces glucagon release by suppressing [Ca(2+)](c) responses in alpha-cells.

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