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Am J Physiol. 1987 Oct;253(4 Pt 1):C607-12.

Block of intercellular communication: interaction of intracellular H+ and Ca2+.

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Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson 85724.


The influence of elevated intracellular levels of H+ and Ca2+ on intercellular communication between cultured neonatal rat myocardial cells was examined by quantifying the percent of primary neighboring cells to which intracellularly injected Lucifer yellow had spread within 10 s of injection. Partial acidosis was induced by incubation in and then removal of NH4Cl. Intracellular Ca2+ was raised through the use of treatments that are standard in studies of heart muscle: reduction of the Na+ gradient, addition of caffeine, and combinations of these interventions. Under control conditions and during application of NH4Cl, cells exhibited spontaneous electrical and contractile activity and were well coupled (dye detectable in 100% of primary neighbors). Sustained intracellular acidosis without simultaneous elevation of intracellular Ca2+ (NH4Cl exposure followed by zero Na+, zero Ca2+) reduced the incidence of dye transfer to 90%. Elevation of intracellular Ca2+ (exposure to zero Na+, Ca2+-containing solution, with or without 10 mM caffeine) had no effect on coupling. These same interventions, when employed together, reduced the incidence of dye coupling to 18%. The results are consistent with a synergism of action of Ca2+ and H+ in the regulation of junctional permeability.

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