Ba2+ ions evoke two kinetically distinct patterns of exocytosis in chromaffin cells, but not in neurohypophysial nerve terminals

Elizabeth P. Seward, Natalya I. Chernevskaya, Martha C. Nowycky

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20 Scopus citations


The coupling between divalent cations and exocytosis of large dense-cored vesicles (LDCV) was studied with capacitance-detection techniques in nerve terminals of the rat neurohypophysis (NHP) and bovine chromaffin cells. Ba2+ substitution for Ca2+ produced kinetically distinct responses in the two preparations. In NHP terminals, Ba2+ ions behave as weak substitutes for Ca2+. Exocytotic events occur principally during depolarizing pulses, i.e., events are "stimulus-coupled" to Ba2+ entry through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. Stimulus-coupled exocytosis apparently requires elevated submembrane cation concentrations that dissipate rapidly on hyperpolarization-induced Ca2+-channel closure. Intracellular dialysis of NHP terminals with Ba2+ does not evoke exocytosis, nor does it interfere with depolarization-evoked Ca2+ influx and exocytosis. In chromaffin cells, Ba2+ ions evoke a small quantity of stimulus-coupled secretion, but the dominant response is an additional pronounced poststimulus capacitance increase that outlasts channel closures by 20-50 sec. "Stimulus-decoupled" exocytosis is slow (∼25-40 fF/sec) compared with Ca2+-evoked stimulus-coupled exocytosis (∼1000 fF/sec). Decoupled secretion is not attributable to Ba2+ displacement of intracellular Ca2+ ions, because it is insensitive to 10 mM EGTA or thapsigargin. Slow exocytosis is initiated by inclusion of Ba2+ ions in the recording pipette and continues steadily for 5-12 min, producing a total increase of several thousand fF, which ultimately doubles or triples the original cell-surface area. We propose that two pathways of regulated exocytosis with distinct kinetics and divalent cation sensitivity exist in chromaffin cells. Only a single kinetic pattern is detected in NHP terminals, suggesting that mechanisms for secretion are not universally distributed in excitable cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1370-1379
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)


  • Asynchronous release
  • Calcium-secretion coupling
  • Chromaffin cells
  • Exocytosis
  • Large dense-cored vesicles
  • Membrane-capacitance detection
  • Neurohypophysis


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