Role of Calcium in the Actions of Agents Affecting Membrane Permeability

  • James W. PutneyJr.


It has been apparent from the earliest electrophysiological measurements that extracellular Ca2+ plays a role in maintaining membrane stability and in long-term control of membrane permeability. Endogenous neurotransmitters and hormones, known to affect membrane permeability in a number of tissues, do not affect the level of extracellular Ca2+ (though surface binding may be affected), but quite often modulate the intracellular Ca2+ concentration. Thus, if Ca2+ were to play a role in alteration (rather than maintenance) of membrane permeability, then an action of intracellular Ca2+ should be evident. Recent investigations have demonstrated that this is indeed the case. The membranes of diverse cell types have been shown to respond to elevation of intracellular Ca2+ usually with an elevation in permeability to K+. In the red cell, this relationship has been demonstrated by several techniques although no endogenous receptor mechanisms capable of controlling this process under physiological conditions have been identified. Excitable cells behave similarly and (as discussed below) changes in intracellular Ca2+ may mediate receptor-dependent as well as voltage-dependent changes in K+ permeability.


Membrane Permeability Muscarinic Receptor Parotid Gland Lacrimal Gland Exocrine Gland 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. PutneyJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PharmacologyWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA

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