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Research Article

Fat-storing cells as liver-specific pericytes. Spatial dynamics of agonist-stimulated intracellular calcium transients.

M Pinzani, P Failli, C Ruocco, A Casini, S Milani, E Baldi, A Giotti and P Gentilini

Istituto di Clinica Medica II, Università di Firenze, Italy.

Published August 1992

Liver perisinusoidal fat-storing cells (FSC) show morphological and ultrastructural characteristics similar to pericytes regulating local blood flow in other organs. In the present study we have analyzed whether FSC respond to local vasoconstrictors such as thrombin, angiotensin-II, and endothelin-1 with an increase in intracellular free calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i) coupled with effective cell contraction. All agonists tested induced a rapid and dose-dependent increase in [Ca2+]i followed by a sustained phase lasting several minutes in confluent monolayers of Fura-2-loaded human FSC. Pharmacological studies performed using different Ca2+ channel blockers indicated that, at least for thrombin and angiotensin-II, the sustained phase is due to the opening of voltage-sensitive membrane Ca2+ channels. To analyze the temporal and spatial dynamics of Ca2+ release in response to these agonists, we performed experiments on individual Fura-2-loaded human FSC using a dual wavelength, radiometric video imaging system. The rise in [Ca2+]i was exclusively localized to the cytoplasm, particularly in the branching processes. Increases in [Ca2+]i more than four-fold were associated with a simultaneous and transient reduction of cell area indicating reversible cell contraction. Our results indicate that the Ca(2+)-dependent contraction of human FSC in vitro may reflect a potential role in regulating sinusoidal blood flow in vivo.

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