A Statistical View on Calcium Oscillations

  • Jake Powell
  • Martin Falcke
  • Alexander Skupin
  • Tomas C. Bellamy
  • Theodore Kypraios
  • Rüdiger ThulEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1131)


Transient rises and falls of the intracellular calcium concentration have been observed in numerous cell types and under a plethora of conditions. There is now a growing body of evidence that these whole-cell calcium oscillations are stochastic, which poses a significant challenge for modelling. In this review, we take a closer look at recently developed statistical approaches to calcium oscillations. These models describe the timing of whole-cell calcium spikes, yet their parametrisations reflect subcellular processes. We show how non-stationary calcium spike sequences, which e.g. occur during slow depletion of intracellular calcium stores or in the presence of time-dependent stimulation, can be analysed with the help of so-called intensity functions. By utilising Bayesian concepts, we demonstrate how values of key parameters of the statistical model can be inferred from single cell calcium spike sequences and illustrate what information whole-cell statistical models can provide about the subcellular mechanistic processes that drive calcium oscillations. In particular, we find that the interspike interval distribution of HEK293 cells under constant stimulation is captured by a Gamma distribution.


Calcium spikes Bayesian inference Intensity functions Heterogeneous cell populations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jake Powell
    • 1
  • Martin Falcke
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alexander Skupin
    • 4
    • 5
  • Tomas C. Bellamy
    • 6
  • Theodore Kypraios
    • 1
  • Rüdiger Thul
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Centre for Mathematical Medicine and Biology, School of Mathematical SciencesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK
  2. 2.Max Delbrück Centre for Molecular MedicineBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsHumboldt UniversityBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Luxembourg Centre for Systems BiomedicineUniversity of LuxembourgBelvalLuxembourg
  5. 5.National Biomedical Computation ResourceUniversity California San DiegoLa JollaUSA
  6. 6.School of Life SciencesUniversity of NottinghamNottinghamUK

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