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Biophys J. 1999 Jul;77(1):629-38.

Regulation of airway ciliary activity by Ca2+: simultaneous measurement of beat frequency and intracellular Ca2+.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacy, King's College London, London SW3 6LX, England.


Airway ciliary activity is influenced by [Ca2+]i, but this mechanism is not fully understood. To investigate this relationship, ciliary activity and [Ca2+]i were measured simultaneously from airway epithelial ciliated cells. Ciliary beat frequency was determined, for each beat cycle, with phase-contrast optics and high-speed video imaging (at 240 images s-1) and correlated with [Ca2+]i determined, at the ciliary base, by fast imaging (30 images s-1) of fura-2 fluorescence. As a mechanically induced intercellular Ca2+ wave propagated through adjacent cells, [Ca2+]i was elevated from a baseline concentration of 45 to 100 nM, to a peak level of up to 650 nM. When the Ca2+ wave reached the ciliary base, the beat frequency rapidly increased, within a few beat cycles, from a basal rate of 6.4 to 11.6 Hz at 20-23 degrees C, and from 17.2 to 26.7 Hz at 37 degrees C. Changes in [Ca2+]i, above 350 nM, had no effect on the maximum beat frequency. We suggest that airway ciliary beat frequency is 1) controlled by a low range of [Ca2+]i acting directly at an axonemal site at the ciliary base and 2) that a maximum frequency is induced by a change in [Ca2+]i of approximately 250-300 nM.

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