The dihydropyridine (DHP) Ca2+ agonist Bay K 8644 produced a dose-dependent increase in 45Ca2+ uptake by GH4C1 rat pituitary tumor cells. For agonist concentrations between 10(-9) and 10(-5) M, the enhanced 45Ca2+ uptake was well correlated with simultaneous increases in prolactin (PRL) secretion. Bay K 8644 combined with depolarizing concentrations of KCl produced more than additive effects on net Ca2+ uptake and hormone release. Nisoldipine, a DHP Ca2+ antagonist, competitively blocked Bay K 8644-stimulated 45Ca2+ uptake. This drug also potently inhibited 45Ca2+ uptake triggered by depolarization with KCl (estimated half-maximal inhibiting concentration: 2 nM). Bay K 8644 enhanced PRL secretion from normal rat pituitaries in culture and in a perifusion system. These results indicate that Bay K 8644 is a potent modulator of voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels of both normal and transformed pituitary cells. In this respect endocrine cell Ca2+ channels resemble those found in heart, smooth muscle, and neuronal cell bodies.
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