Neuronal free calcium measurement using BTC/AM, a low affinity calcium indicator

Krzysztof L. Hyrc, Joanna M. Bownik, Mark P. Goldberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


BTC is a low affinity calcium indicator (K(d) ~ 7-26 μM) featuring many desirable properties for cellular calcium imaging, including long excitation wavelengths (400/485 nm), low sensitivity to Mg2+, and accuracy of ratiometric measurement. To assess the usefulness of this indicator in cultured neurons, we examined properties of BTC and its acetoxymethyl ester, BTC/AM. BTC/AM had substantial calcium-independent fluorescence at all excitation wavelengths. BTC/AM was readily loaded into neurons and was rapidly hydrolysed. There was little dye compartmentalization, as assessed by digitonin lysis, Co2+ quenching of BTC fluorescence and by confocal microscopy. Despite adequate loading, BTC gradually became unresponsive to [Ca2+](i) when cultures were examined under routine imaging conditions. This effect was a function of the cumulative fluorescence illumination and could be minimized by attenuating light intensity or duration. Ratio imaging after exposure of neuronal cultures to 1-50 μM ionomycin revealed distinct sensitivity ranges for BTC and Fura-2. BTC reported graded neuronal [Ca2+](i) responses to glutamate receptor stimulation with N-methyl-D-aspartate in the range 10-50 μM, whereas Fura-2 did not distinguish between these stimuli. Under appropriate loading and illumination conditions, bath-loaded BTC/AM may be well suited for measurement of moderate to high calcium concentrations in cultured neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-175
Number of pages11
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1998


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