Dual wavelength microfluorometry was utilized to measure the cytoplasmic calcium concentration (Cai2+) of single parathyroid cells loaded with the indicator fura-2. The method enabled the first registrations of Cai2+ of normal human parathyroid cells, available only in minute numbers. At 0.5 mM extracellular Ca2+, the Cai2+ levels were similar in normal human and bovine cells. Both cell types responded with an initial Cai2+ transient followed by a sustained increase when raising extracellular Ca2+ to 3.0 mM. The sustained effect exhibited a sigmoidal relation to extracellular Ca2+ in the 0.5–3.0 mM range. Although the increase was somewhat greater in the human cells, the half maximal responses were obtained at almost identical extracellular Ca2+ concentrations. Whereas K+ depolarization decreased Cai2+, the Cai2+ channel blocker D-600 had dual actions, raising Cai2+at 0.5 mM Ca2+ and decreasing it at 3.0 mM Cai2+, and the effects were similar in the bovine and human cells. The present experimental approach verified the validity of utilizing bovine cells as controls in studies of human parathyroid tissue and it appears suitable for analysis of the role of different subpopulations of parathyroid cells in the abnormal parathyroid tissue of patients with hyperparathyroidism.

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