Skip to content


  • Poster presentation
  • Open Access

Computational estimation of calcium fluxes in isolated magnocellular neurons

BMC Neuroscience201516 (Suppl 1) :P299

  • Published:


  • Clearance Rate
  • Thapsigargin
  • Calcium Transient
  • Intracellular Calcium Concentration
  • Calcium Flux

Current optical methods based on fluorescent indicators permit to measure the intracellular calcium concentration with a high temporal resolution. To analyze the physiological mechanisms that underly the calcium dynamics, however, knowledge of the calcium fluxes into and out of the cell is needed. Here we present a method that permits to separately estimate the influx and clearance rates, based on the measurement of Ca2+ concentration during a series of depolarization-evoked calcium transients. We apply this method to investigate calcium clearance mechanisms in isolated magnocellular neurons of the rat supraoptic nucleus.

In the simplest case, we assume that the cytoplasmic Ca2+ concentration during the transient is governed by a time-dependent influx Jinflux(t) through voltage-gated Calcium channels and by an outflux Jclearance that depends only on the instantaneous calcium concentration [Ca2+](t):
d [ Ca 2 + ] / d t = J influx ( t ) J clearance ( [ Ca 2 + ] .

To separate the two fluxes, we first estimate the clearance function Jclearance([Ca2+]). Near the end of the transient, Jclearance dominates over Jinflux, and Jclearance may be obtained directly as the measured Ca2+ decay rate [1]. In contrast, near the peak of a transient the two fluxes are comparable, and Jclearance therefore significantly exceeds -d[Ca2+]/dt. However, in this case the clearance rate obtained from a higher transient can be used as a good estimate. If the assumption of Eq.1 is satisfied, the clearance function is obtained as the envelope of the recorded return curves in the d[Ca2+]/dt vs. [Ca2+] plot. The calcium influx rate Jinflux(t) during each transient is then estimated by substracting Jclearance([Ca2+](t)) from the measured rate d[Ca2+]/dt. We tested the adequacy of this procedure using surrogate calcium dynamics data.

For cells in which the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) noticeably contributes to the calcium transient [2], the clearance function Jclearance is not solely dependent on the cytoplasmic calcium concentration, as was assumed above. In this case, the method described above can still be applied to experiments performed in presence of Thapsigargin or cyclopiazonic acid (CPA), to avoid release or uptake of Ca2+ by the ER. Comparison of the estimated fluxes from the experiments with and without Thapsigargin/CPA can be used to investigate the ER-dependent calcium fluxes. We apply this method to freshly isolated magnocellular neurons, in which we used Fura-2AM to measure the cytoplasmic [Ca2+] during depolarization-evoked Ca2+ transients of various amplitudes and durations; depolarization was induced [3] by changing the external K+ concentration.

Our method of estimating the Ca2+ fluxes may be used also in other cell types to help characterize the contribution of individual mechanisms to calcium dynamics.

Authors’ Affiliations

Institute of Physiology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
Institute of Biophysics and Informatics, First Faculty of Medicine, Charles University in Prague, Prague, Czech Republic
Institute of Experimental Medicine, Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague, Czech Republic
INSERM U710/EPHE, Université Montpellier 2, Montpellier, France


  1. Fierro L, DiPolo R, Llano I: Intracellular calcium clearance in Purkinje cell somata from rat cerebellar slices. Journal of Physiology. 1998, 510 (2): 499-512.PubMedPubMed CentralView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  2. Gilon P, Arredouani A, Gaill P, Gromada J, Henquin JC: Uptake and release of Ca2+ by the endoplasmic reticulum contribute to the oscillations of the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration triggered by Ca2+ influx in the electrically excitable pancreatic B-cell. J.Biol.Chem. 1999, 274: 20197-20205.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Harasztosi C, Por A, Rusznak Z, Szucs G: Removal of Ca2+ following depolarization-evoked cytoplasmic Ca2+ transients in freshly dissociated pyramidal neurones of the rat dorsal cochlear nucleus. Brain Research. 2002, 930: 123-133.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Kortus et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.