AbstractThe regulation of cytoplasmic calcium is a key process in nerve tissue. Using a smooth muscle model we have shown that prostaglandin (PG) E2 probably regulates entry from extracellular fluid, whereas the release from intracellular stores depends on the interplay between thromboxane (TX) A2, PGEI and prostacyclin. Hormones and other agents interact with this system in the following ways: vasopressin, angiotensin and inositol mobilize arachidonic acid from membrane phospholipids and increase synthesis of PGE2 and TXA2, cortisol blocks this action. Prolactin and zinc mobilize dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid and increase synthesis of PGEI. These effects can be blocked by cortisol, lithium and taurine, three agents which on their own have no effect on basal PG production. Epileptogenic agents like penicillin and picrotoxin also stimulate PG synthesis, while diphenylhydantoin is a PG antagonist and diazepam is a TXA2 antagonist. The effects of all these agents occur at concentrations which are physiological in the case of the natural ones, and readily attained in human plasma in the case of the drgus. In view of recent evidence that calcium may be important in demyelination and considering the established role it plays in nerve conduction and synaptic transmission, we suggest that these observations may be of significance in understanding Friedreich's ataxia.
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