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Caffeine-induced oscillations of cytosolic Ca2+ in GH3 pituitary cells are not due to Ca2+ release from intracellular stores but to enhanced Ca2+ influx through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels

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Caffeine, a well known facilitator of Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release, induced oscillations of cytosolic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) in GH3 pituitary cells. These oscillations were dependent on the presence of extracellular Ca2+ and blocked by dihydropyridines, suggesting that they are due to Ca2+ entry through L-type Ca2+ channels, rather than to Ca2+ release from the intracellular Ca2+ stores. Emptying the stores by treatment with ionomycin or thapsigargin did not prevent the caffeine-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations. Treatment with caffeine occluded phase 2 ([Ca2+]i oscillations) of the action of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) without modifying phase 1 (Ca2+ release from the intracellular stores). Caffeine also inhibited the [Ca2+]i increase induced by depolarization with high-K+ solutions (56% at 20 mM), suggesting direct inhibition of the Ca2+ entry through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. We propose that the [Ca2+]i increase induced by caffeine in GH3 cells takes place by a mechanism similar to that of TRH, i.e. membrane depolarization that increases the firing frequency of action potentials. The increase of the electrical activity overcomes the direct inhibitory effect on voltage-gated Ca2+ channels with the result of increased Ca2+ entry and a rise in [Ca2+]i. Consideration of this action cautions interpretation of previous experiments in which caffeine was assumed to increase [Ca2+]i only by facilitating the release of Ca2+ from intracellular Ca2+ stores.

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Correspondence to Javier García-Sancho.

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Villalobos, C., García-Sancho, J. Caffeine-induced oscillations of cytosolic Ca2+ in GH3 pituitary cells are not due to Ca2+ release from intracellular stores but to enhanced Ca2+ influx through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. Pflugers Arch. 431, 371–378 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02207274

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Key words

  • Ca2− influx
  • Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release
  • Caffeine
  • Ryanodine
  • Intracellular Ca2+ stores
  • GH3 pituitary cells
  • Thapsigargin