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Int J Cell Biol. 2010;2010:546163. doi: 10.1155/2010/546163. Epub 2010 Mar 15.

The dual role of calcium as messenger and stressor in cell damage, death, and survival.

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Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire du Cancer, Hôpital Kirchberg, 9 rue Edward Steichen, Luxembourg L-2540, Luxembourg.


Ca(2+) is an important second messenger participating in many cellular activities; when physicochemical insults deregulate its delicate homeostasis, it acts as an intrinsic stressor, producing/increasing cell damage. Damage elicits both repair and death responses; intriguingly, in those responses Ca(2+) also participates as second messenger. This delineates a dual role for Ca(2+) in cell stress, making difficult to separate the different and multiple mechanisms required for Ca(2+)-mediated control of cell survival and apoptosis. Here we attempt to disentangle the two scenarios, examining on the one side, the events implicated in deregulated Ca(2+) toxicity and the mechanisms through which this elicits reparative or death pathways; on the other, reviewing the role of Ca(2+) as a messenger in the transduction of these same signaling events.

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