Elementary purinergic Ca2+ transients evoked by nerve stimulation in rat urinary bladder smooth muscle

Thomas J. Heppner, Adrian D. Bonev, Mark T. Nelson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The translation of nerve transmission to Ca2+ signals in urinary bladder smooth muscle (UBSM) is incompletely understood. Thus, we sought to characterize Ca2+ signals in strips of UBSM loaded with the Ca2+-sensitive fluorescent dye, fluo-4, using laser scanning confocal microscopy. Two types of Ca2+ signals occurred spontaneously and could be evoked with field stimulation: large, rapid, global Ca2+ transients termed 'global Ca2+ flashes', and much smaller, localized Ca2+ transients. Global Ca2+ flashes were inhibited by the L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channel (VDCC) inhibitor, diltiazem and with P2X receptor blockade. Simultaneous intracellular recordings and Ca2+ measurements indicated that these events are caused by Ca2+ influx through VDCCs during action potentials. Small, local Ca2+ transients occurred spontaneously, and their frequency could be elevated with field stimulation. Atropine, an inhibitor of muscarinic receptors, did not affect these local Ca2+ transients. However, the desensitizing P2X receptor agonist α,β-methylene ATP, and the purinergic antagonist, suramin, effectively inhibited the local Ca2+ transients. The frequency of these 'purinergic Ca2+ transients' was increased about 7-fold by a 10 s stimulus train (1 Hz). The amplitude, duration at one-half amplitude and the spatial spread of the evoked purinergic Ca2+ transients were F/Fo = 2.4 ± 0.13, 111.7 ± 9.3 ms and 14.0 ± 1.0 μm2, respectively. Tetrodotoxin inhibited evoked purinergic Ca2+ transients, indicating that they were dependent on nerve fibre activation. Purinergic Ca2+ transients were not dependent on VDCC activity. Neither 2-APB, an inhibitor of inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate (Ins(1,4,5)P3) (IP3)-induced Ca2+ release, nor ryanodine inhibited the purinergic Ca2+ transients. We have identified two novel Ca2+ signals in rat UBSM. Large, rapid, global Ca2+ flashes that represent Ca2+ influx through VDCCs during action potentials, and local, purinergic Ca2+ transients that represent Ca2+ entry through P2X receptors. Our results indicate that purinergic Ca2+ transients evoked by release of ATP from nerve varicosities are elementary signals in the process of nerve-smooth muscle communication. © The Physiological Society 2004.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)201-212
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Physiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2005


    • Animals
    • drug effects: Calcium Signaling
    • pharmacology: Diltiazem
    • methods: Electric Stimulation
    • Male
    • drug effects: Muscle, Smooth
    • Rats
    • physiology: Receptors, Purinergic P2
    • drug effects: Synaptic Transmission
    • drug effects: Urinary Bladder


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