L-type calcium channels in adrenal chromaffin cells: Role in pace-making and secretion

A. Marcantoni, P. Baldelli, J. M. Hernandez-Guijo, V. Comunanza, V. Carabelli, E. Carbone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Voltage-gated L-type (Cav1.2 and Cav1.3) channels are widely expressed in cardiovascular tissues and represent the critical drug-target for the treatment of several cardiovascular diseases. The two isoforms are also abundantly expressed in neuronal and neuroendocrine tissues. In the brain, Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 channels control synaptic plasticity, somatic activity, neuronal differentiation and brain aging. In neuroendocrine cells, they are involved in the genesis of action potential generation, bursting activity and hormone secretion. Recent studies have shown that Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 are also expressed in chromaffin cells but their functional role has not yet been identified despite that L-type channels possess interesting characteristics, which confer them an important role in the control of catecholamine secretion during action potentials stimulation. In intact rat adrenal glands L-type channels are responsible for adrenaline and noradrenaline release following splanchnic nerve stimulation or nicotinic receptor activation. L-type channels can be either up- or down-modulated by membrane autoreceptors following distinct second messenger pathways. L-type channels are tightly coupled to BK channels and activate at relatively low-voltages. In this way they contribute to the action potential hyperpolarization and to the pace-maker current controlling action potential firings. L-type channels are shown also to regulate the fast secretion of the immediate readily releasable pool of vesicles with the same Ca2+-efficiency of other voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. In mouse adrenal slices, repeated action potential-like stimulations drive L-type channels to a state of enhanced stimulus-secretion efficiency regulated by β-adrenergic receptors. Here we will review all these novel findings and discuss the possible implication for a specific role of L-type channels in the control of chromaffin cells activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-408
Number of pages12
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • β-Adrenergic modulation
  • Capacitance increase
  • Cav1.2 and Cav1.3 calcium channels
  • Exocytosis
  • Pace-maker current
  • Vesicle release

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'L-type calcium channels in adrenal chromaffin cells: Role in pace-making and secretion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this