1. Addition of oxaloacetate or acetoacetate to isolated rat liver mitochondria results in an efflux of Ca2+. Concomitant with this efflux is an immediate oxidation of endogenous nicotinamide nucleotides, a fall in the mitochondrial membrane potential and an increase in the rate of respiration. The primary effect in this sequence may be either (a) physiologically important stimulation of a Ca2+-efflux carrier, followed by Ca2+ re-uptake, a fall in membrane potential and increased respiration, or (b) physiologically unimportant damage to mitochondrial integrity, followed by a fall in membrane potential, increased respiration and Ca2+ efflux. 2. Ruthenium Red and EGTA will restore the increased respiratory rate to one approximating to the control rate of respiration. However, addition of lanthanide, at a concentration which inhibits the uptake but not the normal efflux of Ca2+, inhibits the rate of Ca2+ efflux induced by oxaloacetate or acetoacetate. Therefore the observed efflux is occurring by a reversal of the uptake pathway (uniporter) and thus follows the fall in membrane potential. 3. From these results we conclude that the decrease in membrane potential and increase in the rate of respiration seen during oxaloacetate- or acetoacetate-induced Ca2+ efflux cannot be accounted for by rapid Ca2+ cycling, but are due to damage to mitochondrial integrity.

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