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The carotid body plays a crucial role in cardiorespiratory regulation. In the present study we investigated the effect of osmotic changes on cytoplasmic calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)](c)) and pH (pH(i)) of isolated chemoreceptor cells of the rat carotid body. In CO(2)/HCO(3)(-)-buffered medium, reduction of osmolality from the control level of 300 mosmol kg(-1) to 250-285 mosmol kg(-1) resulted in a rise in [Ca(2+)](c), as measured with Indo-1, whereas elevation of osmolality to 350 mosmol kg(-1) had no effect. The Ca(2+) response required extracellular Ca(2+) and was reduced by application of the L-type Ca(2+) channel antagonist nifedipine (10 microM). The hyposmosis-induced Ca(2+) response could be prevented by application of niflumic acid (300 microM), an inhibitor of the swelling-activated Cl(-) channel. In whole-cell patch-clamp experiments niflumic acid abolished the swelling-activated Cl(-) current but only slightly depressed the Ca(2+) current. The inhibition of Ca(2+) current by niflumic acid does not account for its action in preventing of hyposmosis-induced Ca(2+) response, which seems to be initiated by Cl(-)-mediated depolarisation. Withdrawal of CO(2)/HCO(3)(-) also prevented the Ca(2+) response. Reduction of the osmotic concentration by 50 mosmol kg(-1) induced a small but sustained decrease in pH(i), while elevation by 50 mosmol kg(-1) had an inverse effect, as measured fluorimetrically with carboxy SNARF-1. Our conclusion is that in the rat chemoreceptor cell the activation of Cl(-) channels, e.g. by hyposmotic challenge, induces depolarisation, which, in turn, activates voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels.


Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





471 - 481


Animals, Bicarbonates, Buffers, Calcium, Calcium Channel Blockers, Carbon Dioxide, Carotid Body, Chelating Agents, Chemoreceptor Cells, Chloride Channels, Cytoplasm, Egtazic Acid, Electric Conductivity, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Nifedipine, Niflumic Acid, Osmolar Concentration, Osmosis, Patch-Clamp Techniques, Rats, Rats, Wistar