Calcium Waves in Retinal Glial Cells

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Science  07 Feb 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5301, pp. 844-847
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5301.844

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Calcium signals were recorded from glial cells in acutely isolated rat retina to determine whether Ca2+ waves occur in glial cells of intact central nervous system tissue. Chemical (adenosine triphosphate), electrical, and mechanical stimulation of astrocytes initiated increases in the intracellular concentration of Ca2+ that propagated at ∼23 micrometers per second through astrocytes and Müller cells as intercellular waves. The Ca2+ waves persisted in the absence of extracellular Ca2+ but were largely abolished by thapsigargin and intracellular heparin, indicating that Ca2+ was released from intracellular stores. The waves did not evoke changes in cell membrane potential but traveled synchronously in astrocytes and Müller cells, suggesting a functional linkage between these two types of glial cells. Such glial Ca2+ waves may constitute an extraneuronal signaling pathway in the central nervous system.

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