The pulsatile release of neurotransmitters and many hormones might encode specific biological information according to temporal pattern. We tested this hypothesis by applying pulsed alpha 1-adrenoceptor stimulation to single aequorin-injected hepatocytes. The amplitude of free Ca2+ transients induced by rapid phenylephrine pulses (20-s interpulse interval) and continuous stimulation was similar (approximately 640 nM) but increased to approximately 1,000 nM as the interpulse interval was increased to 120 s. The same overall response was maintained despite a 13-fold reduction in average phenylephrine concentration. Some regimes of pulsed phenylephrine stimulation could give a higher frequency of pulsed phenylephrine stimulation could give a higher frequency of free calcium oscillations than continuous stimulation, or more rapid stimulation when some agonist pulses failed to elicit a free Ca2+ transient. For the same average phenylephrine concentration (0.3-0.6 microM), pulsed regimes could result in significantly higher frequencies and integrated responses than constant application. The lags between phenylephrine pulses and free Ca2+ transients reduced as the period between pulses increased. The amplitude and lag data are consistent with a refractory period of 18 s and a recovery phase with a time constant of approximately 100 s, perhaps corresponding to dephosphorylation of alpha 1-adrenoceptors phosphorylated by protein kinase C during each free Ca2+ transient.
- Copyright © 1993 the American Physiological Society