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Science. 1997 Feb 7;275(5301):844-7.

Calcium waves in retinal glial cells.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Minnesota, 435 Delaware Street, SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Calcium signals were recorded from glial cells in acutely isolated rat retina to determine whether Ca2+ waves occur in glial cells of intact central nervous system tissue. Chemical (adenosine triphosphate), electrical, and mechanical stimulation of astrocytes initiated increases in the intracellular concentration of Ca2+ that propagated at approximately 23 micrometers per second through astrocytes and Müller cells as intercellular waves. The Ca2+ waves persisted in the absence of extracellular Ca2+ but were largely abolished by thapsigargin and intracellular heparin, indicating that Ca2+ was released from intracellular stores. The waves did not evoke changes in cell membrane potential but traveled synchronously in astrocytes and Müller cells, suggesting a functional linkage between these two types of glial cells. Such glial Ca2+ waves may constitute an extraneuronal signaling pathway in the central nervous system.

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