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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 May;87(9):3454-8.

Glutamate receptors activate Ca2+ mobilization and Ca2+ influx into astrocytes.

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Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences, University of Chicago, IL 60637.


We measured changes in the molar concentration of cytosolic Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in individual astrocytes in culture produced by the glutamate analog quisqualate (QA) and related substances by using fura-2 digital fluorescence microscopy. In cells cultured from the cortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum, the QA analog alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-4-propionate (AMPA; 10 microM) produced a slow increase in [Ca2+]i that was modest in amplitude (approximately 200 nM). These effects were completely abolished by 10 microM 6-nitro-7-cyano-quinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX). In cerebellar astrocytes, similar effects were produced by QA. However, in cortical and hippocampal astrocytes, the response to QA was much more complex. In these cells, QA produced an initial [Ca2+]i spike that was followed by a sustained influx of Ca2+ ("plateau"). In the absence of extracellular Ca2+, this plateau was abolished but the spike remained. CNQX did not block the spike and only slightly reduced the size of the plateau in some cells. Ni2+ (10 microM) but not nimodipine (10 microM) reduced the amplitude of the plateau. Pretreatment with 100 nM phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate for 15 min abolished the spike but not the plateau portion of the QA response. Treatment with pertussis toxin at 250 ng/ml for 12-16 hr failed to alter the response. In some instances, the latency of the QA response differed considerably for individual cells in a group. It appeared that the response began in one cell and then spread to neighboring cells. Thus, QA appears to trigger a complex response in some astrocytes consisting of Ca2+ mobilization from intracellular stores and also Ca2+ influx resulting from the activation of AMPA-sensitive and -insensitive pathways.

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