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Gen Physiol Biophys. 2003 Dec;22(4):487-500.

Mechanisms involved in the increase in intracellular calcium following hypotonic shock in bovine articular chondrocytes.

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University Laboratory of Physiology, University of Oxford, Parks Road, Oxford, United Kingdom.


The extracellular osmotic environment of chondrocytes fluctuates during joint loading as fluid is expressed from and reimbibed by the extracellular matrix. Matrix synthesis by chondrocytes is modulated by joint loading, possibly mediated by variations in intracellular composition. The present study has employed the Ca2+-sensitive fluoroprobe Fura-2 to determine the effects of hypotonic shock (HTS) on intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and to characterise the mechanisms involved in the response for isolated bovine articular chondrocytes. In cells subjected to a 50% dilution, [Ca2+]i rapidly increased by approximately 250%, a sustained plateau being achieved within 300 s. The effect was inhibited by thapsigargin or by removal of extracellular Ca2+, indicating that the rise in [Ca2+]i reflects both influx from the extracellular medium and release from intracellular stores. Inhibition of the response by neomycin implicates activation of PLC and IP3 synthesis in the mobilisation of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. The rise was insensitive to inhibitors of L-type voltage-activated Ca2+ channels (LVACC) or reverse mode Na+/Ca2+ exchange (NCE) but could be significantly attenuated by ruthenium red, an inhibitor of transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels and by Gd3+, a blocker of stretch-activated cation (SAC) channels. The HTS-induced rise in [Ca2+]i was almost completely absent in cells treated with Ni2+, a non-specific inhibitor of Ca2+ entry pathways. We conclude that in response to HTS the opening of SACC and a member of TRPV channel family leads to Ca2+ influx, simultaneously with the release from intracellular stores.

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