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Pancreatic acinar cells: the role of calcium in stimulus-secretion coupling.

  • O H Petersen
  • N Ueda
Publication Date
Jan 01, 1976
  • Biology


1. Segments of mouse or rat pancreas were placed in a flow cell through which physiological salt solutions of varying composition were pumped at a constant rate. Intracellular recordings of membrane potential, resistance and electrical time constant were made from the acini using fine glass micro-electrodes. In some experiments two micro-electrodes were inserted into two acinar cells within the same acinus to assess directly cell to cell coupling. The concentration of amylase in the effluent was measured continuously. 2. Electrical coupling between two acinar cells was observed when the tips of the two micro-electrodes were less than 50 mum from each other. The coupling ratio was close to 1. Acetylcholine (ACh) always evoked depolarization of exactly the same amplitude in two coupled cells and reduced the amplitude of current-pulse induced membrane potential changes in both cell simultaneously. 3. Stimulation with ACh caused an immediate increase in amylase output. Replacement of superfusion fluid Na by Tris or Cl by sulphate abolished ACh-evoked increase in amylase release, but the subsequent reintroduction of Na or Cl caused an increase in amylase release of a magnitude similar to what was normally observed following stimulation. 4. Omitting Ca from the superfusion fluid and adding EGTA rapidly depolarized the acinar cell membrane, reduced the input resistance and caused a marked reduction in amylase secretion. During exposure to a Ca-free, EGTA containing solution a marked increase in amylase release occurred following maximal ACh stimulation. 5. Addition of small amounts of Mg, Ca or Mn to a Ca-, Mg-free solution caused an increase in membrane potential, input resistance and electrical time constant and markedly increased amylase release. The effect on the electrical parameters was reversed in the absence of extracellular Na while extracellular Na was of no importance for the effect on amylase release. 6. The effect of ACh on amylase was enhanced during superfusion with a fluid containing 20 mM-Ca. The presence of Mn (5 mM) in an otherwise normal control had no effect on ACh-evoked release. 7. These results show that ACh acts on the acinus by reducing the surface cell membrane resistance. It is suggested that the ACh-receptor interaction causes a release of Ca from the surface cell membrane and that the concentration of Ca in the surface cell membrane determines the specific membrane resistance particularly for Na. The release of Ca to the cytosol activates exocytosis while the Na influx is of importance for acinar fluid secretion. The effect of ACh on amylase secretion can be mimicked by agents displacing membrane-bound Ca (Mg, Ca, Mn).


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