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J Neurophysiol. 2018 Aug 1;120(2):509-524. doi: 10.1152/jn.00740.2017. Epub 2018 Apr 18.

Pulsed infrared releases Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum of cultured spiral ganglion neurons.

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Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Miami , Miami, Florida.
Neuroscience Program, University of Miami , Miami, Florida.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Miami , Miami, Florida.
Department of Otolaryngology, University of Miami , Miami, Florida.


Inner ear spiral ganglion neurons were cultured from day 4 postnatal mice and loaded with a fluorescent Ca2+ indicator (fluo-4, -5F, or -5N). Pulses of infrared radiation (IR; 1,863 nm, 200 µs, 200-250 Hz for 2-5 s, delivered via an optical fiber) produced a rapid, transient temperature increase of 6-12°C (above a baseline of 24-30°C). These IR pulse trains evoked transient increases in both nuclear and cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]) of 0.20-1.4 µM, with a simultaneous reduction of [Ca2+] in regions containing endoplasmic reticulum (ER). IR-induced increases in cytosolic [Ca2+] continued in medium containing no added Ca2+ (±Ca2+ buffers) and low [Na+], indicating that the [Ca2+] increase was mediated by release from intracellular stores. Consistent with this hypothesis, the IR-induced [Ca2+] response was prolonged and eventually blocked by inhibition of ER Ca2+-ATPase with cyclopiazonic acid, and was also inhibited by a high concentration of ryanodine and by inhibitors of inositol (1,4,5)-trisphosphate (IP3)-mediated Ca2+ release (xestospongin C and 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate). The thermal sensitivity of the response suggested involvement of warmth-sensitive transient receptor potential (TRP) channels. The IR-induced [Ca2+] increase was inhibited by TRPV4 inhibitors (HC-067047 and GSK-2193874), and immunostaining of spiral ganglion cultures demonstrated the presence of TRPV4 and TRPM2 that colocalized with ER marker GRP78. These results suggest that the temperature sensitivity of IR-induced [Ca2+] elevations is conferred by TRP channels on ER membranes, which facilitate Ca2+ efflux into the cytosol and thereby contribute to Ca2+-induced Ca2+-release via IP3 and ryanodine receptors. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Infrared radiation-induced photothermal effects release Ca2+ from the endoplasmic reticulum of primary spiral ganglion neurons. This Ca2+ release is mediated by activation of transient receptor potential (TRPV4) channels and involves amplification by Ca2+-induced Ca2+-release. The neurons immunostained for warmth-sensitive channels, TRPV4 and TRPM2, which colocalize with endoplasmic reticulum. Pulsed infrared radiation provides a novel experimental tool for releasing intracellular Ca2+, studying Ca2+ regulatory mechanisms, and influencing neuronal excitability.


Ca2+ photocontrol; TRP channels; endoplasmic reticulum; infrared stimulation; optical stimulation; spiral ganglion neurons

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