Defective control of cytoplasmic calcium concentration in T lymphocytes from old mice

Richard A. Miller, Ben Philosophe, Irene Ginis, Gary Weil, Bruce Jacobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Cytoplasmic calcium concentration ([Ca]i) rises within minutes of exposure of T lymphocytes to a mitogen. T cells from old mice are defective in this reaction, a defect that could reflect either altered signal transduction or instead a more general age‐associated change in intracellular calcium regulation. We therefore tested the ability of T cells from old mice to regulate their [Ca]i concentration after exposure to low concentrations of ionomycin, an agent that raises [Ca]i but bypasses receptor‐mediated signal transduction mechanisms. Exposure of T cells to ionomycin leads to an abrupt increase in [Ca]i followed by stabilization at a dose‐dependent plateau level that is affected by extracellular EGTA, by calmodulin inhibitors, and by modulators of protein kinase C. Plateau levels of [Ca]i after ionomycin challenge were consistently lower in T cells from old mice than in T cells from young mice. Flow cytometric experiments showed that while essentially all T cells from both old and young mice responded to ionomycin, they did so to an extent that depended on donor age. The age‐dependent increase in resistance to ionomycin‐induced changes in [Ca]i cannot be attributed to diminished membrane permeability to the ionomycin‐calcium complex. The data suggest that aging may lead, in T lymphocytes, to a relative resistance to increases in [Ca]i, a resistance that in turn prevents cell activation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)175-182
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Cellular Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1989
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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