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Open Access Research article

Ethanol exerts dual effects on calcium homeostasis in CCK-8-stimulated mouse pancreatic acinar cells

Marcela Fernández-Sánchez, Angel del Castillo-Vaquero, Ginés M Salido and Antonio González*

Author Affiliations

Department of Physiology (Cell Physiology Research Group), University of Extremadura, Cáceres, Spain

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BMC Cell Biology 2009, 10:77  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-10-77

Published: 30 October 2009



A significant percentage of patients with pancreatitis often presents a history of excessive alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, the patho-physiological effect of ethanol on pancreatitis remains poorly understood. In the present study, we have investigated the early effects of acute ethanol exposure on CCK-8-evoked Ca2+ signals in mouse pancreatic acinar cells. Changes in [Ca2+]i and ROS production were analyzed employing fluorescence techniques after loading cells with fura-2 or CM-H2DCFDA, respectively.


Ethanol, in the concentration range from 1 to 50 mM, evoked an oscillatory pattern in [Ca2+]i. In addition, ethanol evoked reactive oxygen species generation (ROS) production. Stimulation of cells with 1 nM or 20 pM CCK-8, respectively led to a transient change and oscillations in [Ca2+]i. In the presence of ethanol a transformation of 20 pM CCK-8-evoked physiological oscillations into a single transient increase in [Ca2+]i in the majority of cells was observed. Whereas, in response to 1 nM CCK-8, the total Ca2+ mobilization was significantly increased by ethanol pre-treatment. Preincubation of cells with 1 mM 4-MP, an inhibitor of alcohol dehydrogenase, or 10 μM of the antioxidant cinnamtannin B-1, reverted the effect of ethanol on total Ca2+ mobilization evoked by 1 nM CCK-8. Cinnamtannin B-1 blocked ethanol-evoked ROS production.


ethanol may lead, either directly or through ROS generation, to an over stimulation of pancreatic acinar cells in response to CCK-8, resulting in a higher Ca2+ mobilization compared to normal conditions. The actions of ethanol on CCK-8-stimulation of cells create a situation potentially leading to Ca2+ overload, which is a common pathological precursor that mediates pancreatitis.