Transient increases of intracellular calcium and exocytotic activity of rat peritoneal mast cells following stimulation with compound 48/80 were monitored using the Ca-indicator dye fura-2 and the capacitance measurement technique. It is known that mast cells very rapidly lose their secretory response towards antigenic or compound 48/80-induced stimulation in the whole-cell recording configuration of the patch-clamp technique due to “washout” of signal mediators. In contrast, we found that calcium transients remained unaffected by intracellular dialysis for as long as 10 min.

The fast “washout” phenomenon of exocytosis could be overcome by supplementing the pipette filling solution with guanosinetriphosphate (GTP) indicating a major role for GTP-binding proteins in secretion. The restoration of exocytosis was transient and decayed within three minutes, suggesting diffusional escape of one or several other cytoplasmic substances involved in stimulus-secretion coupling. Quantitative aspects of this process and the implications of its differential effects on Ca-transients versus secretion are discussed.

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