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Cell Calcium. 2012 Mar-Apr;51(3-4):284-92. doi: 10.1016/j.ceca.2012.01.008. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Modulation/physiology of calcium channel sub-types in neurosecretory terminals.

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Department of Microbiology and Physiological Systems & Program in Neuroscience, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


The hypothalamic-neurohypophysial system (HNS) controls diuresis and parturition through the release of arginine-vasopressin (AVP) and oxytocin (OT). These neuropeptides are chiefly synthesized in hypothalamic magnocellular somata in the supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei and are released into the blood stream from terminals in the neurohypophysis. These HNS neurons develop specific electrical activity (bursts) in response to various physiological stimuli. The release of AVP and OT at the level of neurohypophysis is directly linked not only to their different burst patterns, but is also regulated by the activity of a number of voltage-dependent channels present in the HNS nerve terminals and by feedback modulators. We found that there is a different complement of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCC) in the two types of HNS terminals: L, N, and Q in vasopressinergic terminals vs. L, N, and R in oxytocinergic terminals. These channels, however, do not have sufficiently distinct properties to explain the differences in release efficacy of the specific burst patterns. However, feedback by both opioids and ATP specifically modulate different types of VGCC and hence the amount of AVP and/or OT being released. Opioid receptors have been identified in both AVP and OT terminals. In OT terminals, μ-receptor agonists inhibit all VGCC (particularly R-type), whereas, they induce a limited block of L-, and P/Q-type channels, coupled to an unusual potentiation of the N-type Ca(2+) current in the AVP terminals. In contrast, the N-type Ca(2+) current can be inhibited by adenosine via A(1) receptors leading to the decreased release of both AVP and OT. Furthermore, ATP evokes an inactivating Ca(2+)/Na(+)-current in HNS terminals able to potentiate AVP release through the activation of P2X2, P2X3, P2X4 and P2X7 receptors. In OT terminals, however, only the latter receptor type is probably present. We conclude by proposing a model that can explain how purinergic and/or opioid feedback modulation during bursts can mediate differences in the control of neurohypophysial AVP vs. OT release.

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