The basal level of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMPi) in A-431 cells incubated at 37 degrees C in Na(+)-containing Hanks solution is 2086 +/- 139 fmol/10(6) cells. When cells are exposed to 45 degrees C for 10 min, cAMPi increases by 40 +/- 4%, and then returns to basal levels within 30 min. Incubating cells in Ca(2+)-free or Mg(2+)-free Hanks solution has no effect on the heat-induced increase in cAMPi, but the increase is inhibited by acid-loading cells to intracellular pH 7.0 or 6.8. In unheated cells, cAMPi increases by 16 +/- 8%, 53 +/- 7%, or 39 +/- 8%, when incubated with isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (1 mM), Ro 20-1724 (0.5 mM), or theophylline (1 mM) respectively. However, heat treatment further elevates cAMPi in cells treated with phosphodiesterase inhibitors, indicating that heat treatment and phosphodiesterase inhibitors elevate cAMPi by a different pathway(s). Heat treatment increases adenylate cyclase activity 2.5-fold. When forskolin (150 microM), an adenylate cyclase stimulator, is applied to cells, the basal cAMPi increases 28 +/- 6-fold compared with controls. Subsequent heating of these cells lowers cAMPi levels to 7.0 +/- 0.5 times that in control cells. This decrease is prevented by pretreatment with pertussis toxin (30 ng/ml, 24 h), suggesting that G-proteins are involved in the process of heat-induced cAMPi increase. 2-Deoxy-D-glucose (10 mM), NaN3 (10 mM) and 2,4-dinitrophenol (1 mM) also increase cAMPi in A-431 cells. However, application of these metabolic inhibitors to cells before heat treatment does not result in cAMPi levels greater than that observed in cells with heat alone. Similar observations are obtained in heat-treated cells previously exposed to adenosine, but not to AMP or ADP. These data are the first to suggest that thermally induced increase in cAMPi is due to a combination of activation of adenylate cyclase and G-proteins, and an increase in adenosine owing to ATP breakdown caused by hyperthermia.

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