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Ischaemia excites sensory neurones (generating pain) and promotes calcitonin gene-related peptide release from nerve endings. Acidosis is thought to play a key role in mediating excitation via the activation of proton-sensitive cation channels. In this study, we investigated the effects of acidosis upon Ca2+ signalling in sensory neurones from rat dorsal root ganglia. Both hypercapnic (pHo 6.8) and metabolic-hypercapnic (pHo 6.2) acidosis caused a biphasic increase in cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+] i ). This comprised a brief Ca2+ transient (half-time approximately 30 s) caused by Ca2+ influx followed by a sustained rise in [Ca2+] i due to Ca2+ release from caffeine and cyclopiazonic acid-sensitive internal stores. Acid-evoked Ca2+ influx was unaffected by voltage-gated Ca2+-channel inhibition with nickel and acid sensing ion channel (ASIC) inhibition with amiloride but was blocked by inhibition of transient receptor potential vanilloid receptors (TRPV1) with (E)-3-(4-t-butylphenyl)-N-(2,3-dihydrobenzo[b][1,4] dioxin-6-yl)acrylamide (AMG 9810; 1 microM) and N-(4-tertiarybutylphenyl)-4-(3-cholorphyridin-2-yl) tetrahydropryazine-1(2H)-carbox-amide (BCTC; 1 microM). Combining acidosis with anoxia and aglycaemia increased the amplitude of both phases of Ca2+ elevation and prolonged the Ca2+ transient. The Ca2+ transient evoked by combined acidosis, aglycaemia and anoxia was also substantially blocked by AMG 9810 and BCTC and, to a lesser extent, by amiloride. In summary, the principle mechanisms mediating increase in [Ca2+] i in response to acidosis are a brief Ca2+ influx through TRPV1 followed by sustained Ca2+ release from internal stores. These effects are potentiated by anoxia and aglycaemia, conditions also prevalent in ischaemia. The effects of anoxia and aglycaemia are suggested to be largely due to the inhibition of Ca2+-clearance mechanisms and possible increase in the role of ASICs.

Original publication




Journal article


Pflugers Arch

Publication Date





159 - 181


Acidosis, Animals, Calcium Signaling, Female, Ganglia, Spinal, Hypoxia, Male, Membrane Potentials, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Sensory Receptor Cells, TRPV Cation Channels