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FASEB J. 2004 Sep;18(12):1468-70. Epub 2004 Jul 1.

A choline-evoked [Ca2+]c signal causes catecholamine release and hyperpolarization of chromaffin cells.

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Instituto Teófilo Hernando y Departamento de Farmacología y Terapéutica, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.


In bovine chromaffin cells fast-superfused with Krebs-HEPES solution containing 1-2 mM Ca2+, 5 s pulses of choline (1-10 mM), elicited catecholamine secretory responses that were only approximately 10% of those evoked by ACh (0.01-0.1 mM). However, in high-Ca2+ solutions (10-20 mM) the size of the choline secretory responses approached those of ACh. The choline responses (10 mM choline in 20 mM Ca2+, 10Cho/20Ca2+) tended to decline upon repetitive pulsing, whereas those of ACh were well maintained. The confocal [Ca2+]c increases evoked by 10Cho/20Ca2+ were similar to those of ACh. Whereas 10Cho/20Ca2+ caused mostly hyperpolarization of chromaffin cells, 0.1ACh/20 Ca2+ caused first depolarization and then hyperpolarization; in regular solutions (2 mM Ca2+), the hyperpolarizing responses did not show up. In Xenopus oocytes injected with mRNA for bovine alpha7 nicotinic receptors (nAChRs), 10Cho/20 Ca2+ fully activated an inward current; in oocytes expressing alpha3beta4, however, the inward current elicited by choline amounted to only 4% of the size of alpha7 current. Our results suggest that choline activates the entry of Ca2+ through alpha7 nAChRs; this leads to a cytosolic concentration of calcium ([Ca2+]c) rise that causes the activation of nearby Ca2+-dependent K+ channels and the hyperpolarization of the chromaffin cell. This response, which could be unmasked provided that cells were stimulated with high-Ca2+ solutions, may be the underlying mechanism through which choline exerts a modulatory effect on the electrical activity of the chromaffin cell and on neurotransmitter release at cholinergic synapses.

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