Mitochondria buffer non-toxic calcium loads and release calcium through the mitochondrial permeability transition pore and sodium/calcium exchanger in rat basal forebrain neurons. Academic Article uri icon


  • Mitochondria participate in intracellular Ca2+ buffering and signalling. They are also major mediators of cell death. Toxic Ca2+ accumulation in mitochondria is widely believed to initiate cell death in many cell types by opening the permeability transition pore (PTP). In non-neuronal cells, the PTP has been implicated as a Ca2+ release mechanism in physiological Ca2+ signalling. In neurons, Ca2+ release from mitochondria has been attributed primarily to mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchange. Using fura-2 ratiometric microfluorimetry in acutely dissociated rat basal forebrain neurons, we show that mitochondria are able to buffer non-toxic Ca2+ loads arising from caffeine-sensitive internal stores or from extracellular influx through voltage gated channels. We also show that these non-toxic Ca2+ loads are reversibly released from mitochondria through the PTP and the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger. Evoked Ca2+ transients have characteristic peak and shoulder features mediated by mitochondrial buffering and release. Depolarizing mitochondria with carbonyl cyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone (CCCP, 5 microM) causes release of mitochondrial Ca2+ and prevents Ca2+ uptake. In CCCP, the magnitudes of evoked Ca2+ transients are increased, and the peak and shoulder features are eliminated. The PTP antagonist, cyclosporin A, (CSA, 2 microM) and the Na+/Ca2+ exchange blocker, clonazepam, (CLO, 20 microM) reversibly inhibited both the shoulder features of evoked Ca2+ transients and Ca2+ transients associated with CCCP application. We suggest that central neuronal mitochondria buffer and release Ca2+ through the PTP and Na+/Ca2+ exchanger during physiological Ca2+ signalling. We also suggest that CLO blocks both the PTP and the mitochondrial Na+/Ca2+ exchanger.

published proceedings

  • Brain Res

author list (cited authors)

  • Murchison, D., & Griffith, W. H.

citation count

  • 37

complete list of authors

  • Murchison, D||Griffith, WH

publication date

  • January 2000