Send to

Choose Destination
J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jul;106(1):460-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00274.2011. Epub 2011 May 11.

Shear mechanical force induces an increase of intracellular Ca2+ in cultured Merkel cells prepared from rat vibrissal hair follicles.

Author information

Department of Anesthesiology and Graduate Program in Neuroscience, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0531, USA.


Merkel cells have been proposed to play a role in mechanical transduction of light touch in mammals. In the present study, Merkel cells were prepared from upper segments of rat vibrissal hair follicles and maintained in culture. Reponses of these cells to shear mechanical forces were examined by Ca(2+) imaging technique. Shear forces of ≥ 0.8 dyn/cm(2) that were delivered to the cells by the application of normal bath solution significantly increased intracellular Ca(2+) levels ([Ca(2+)](i)) in some of these cells, and up to 30% cells responded to 1.6 dyn/cm(2) shear force applied for 20 s. Gd(3+) (100 μM), a compound widely used to inhibit mechanically activated channels, abolished shear force-induced increases of [Ca(2+)](i) in these cells. Reduction of extracellular Ca(2+) concentration from 2 mM to 0.2 mM also abolished shear force-induced increases of [Ca(2+)](i) in these cells. In addition to shear force, we found that many shear force-responding cells also responded to hypotonic solution. However, the response to hypotonic solution was not abolished by Gd(3+) (100 μM). We also found that all shear force-responding cells responded to ATP (100 μM) with large increases of [Ca(2+)](i). The responses to ATP remained in the presence of Gd(3+). Taken together, our results suggest that Merkel cells in culture are sensitive to shear force stress, osmotic, and chemical stimuli and that shear force-induced increases of [Ca(2+)](i) may be mediated by the activation of mechanically activated channels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center