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Glia. 2012 Jan;60(1):53-68. doi: 10.1002/glia.21246. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Glucose increases intracellular free Ca(2+) in tanycytes via ATP released through connexin 43 hemichannels.

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Departamento de Fisiología, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile.


The ventromedial hypothalamus is involved in regulating feeding and satiety behavior, and its neurons interact with specialized ependymal-glial cells, termed tanycytes. The latter express glucose-sensing proteins, including glucose transporter 2, glucokinase, and ATP-sensitive K(+) (K(ATP) ) channels, suggesting their involvement in hypothalamic glucosensing. Here, the transduction mechanism involved in the glucose-induced rise of intracellular free Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+) ](i) ) in cultured β-tanycytes was examined. Fura-2AM time-lapse fluorescence images revealed that glucose increases the intracellular Ca(2+) signal in a concentration-dependent manner. Glucose transportation, primarily via glucose transporters, and metabolism via anaerobic glycolysis increased connexin 43 (Cx43) hemichannel activity, evaluated by ethidium uptake and whole cell patch clamp recordings, through a K(ATP) channel-dependent pathway. Consequently, ATP export to the extracellular milieu was enhanced, resulting in activation of purinergic P2Y(1) receptors followed by inositol trisphosphate receptor activation and Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores. The present study identifies the mechanism by which glucose increases [Ca(2+) ](i) in tanycytes. It also establishes that Cx43 hemichannels can be rapidly activated under physiological conditions by the sequential activation of glucosensing proteins in normal tanycytes.

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