Short-Term Changes in the Ca2+-Exocytosis Relationship during Repetitive Pulse Protocols in Bovine Adrenal Chromaffin Cells

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Stimulus-secretion coupling was monitored with capacitance detection in bovine chromaffin cells recorded in perforated patch mode and stimulated with trains of depolarizing pulses. A subset of stimulus trains evoked a response with a Ca2+-exocytosis relationship identical to that obtained for single depolarizing pulses (Engisch and Nowycky, 1996). Other trains evoked responses with enhanced or diminished Ca2+ efficacy relative to this input-output function. The probability of obtaining a particular Ca2+-exocytosis relationship was correlated with the amount of Ca2+ entry per pulse, such that shorter pulses or smaller currents were associated with the greatest efficacy, and longer pulses and larger currents with the lowest efficacy. Apparent enhancements in Ca2+ efficacy were not caused by residual Ca2+ summing between pulses, because decreasing the interval between pulses usually reduced efficacy in the same cell; conversely, increasing the interval between pulses did not prevent an enhanced Ca2+-exocytosis relationship. Apparent decreases in Ca2+ efficacy were not caused by depletion of an available pool of release-ready vesicles, because an equivalent amount of total Ca2+ entry during a single long depolarizing pulse usually evoked a much larger secretory response in the same cell. Finally, there were no striking differences in global Ca2+ levels monitored with the fluorescent indicator Fura Red that could account for apparent changes in Ca2+ efficacy during repetitive stimulus protocols. It appears that in chromaffin cells, the Ca2+-exocytosis relationship is subject to activity-dependent changes during a stimulus train and can be modulated up or down from a basal state accessed by single pulse stimulations.

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