First images of calcium “pulsars” in arterial walls taken with Andor Revolution® confocal system
Research could transform understanding of blood vessel disease
Belfast, Northern Ireland, 14 October 2009
A laser spinning disk system with its high speed, ultrasensitive digital camera has helped US researchers to capture the first pictures of intercellular calcium signalling in blood vessel walls.
Calcium signalling between the cells which line blood vessels and surrounding smooth muscle is critical for blood flow and pressure regulation. This study will therefore provide insights into blood vessel disease.
The researchers, led by Professor Mark Nelson from the University of Vermont and Professor Michael Kotlikoff from Cornell University, used an Andor Technology Revolution® XD microscopy system with iXonEM+ 897 back-illuminated EMCCD camera to detect calcium release (“sparks”) released from inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors (IP3Rs) in arterial; interior wall cells (endothelium). Local calcium signals from IP3Rs of this sort have never been observed. Professor Mark Nelson attributes the team’s success to the Andor laser confocal system and a new tissue model developed by Professor Kotiloff’s team. The tissue expressed a calcium biosensor (GCaMP2) exclusively in its endothelium allowing calcium signalling between endothelium and smooth muscle cells to be more easily observed. When calcium concentrations increased, the endothelial cells fluoresced.
Acquiring at 15-30 fps, with Andor iQ software the team was able to record stationary calcium signals, which they named “calcium pulsars” because they had a frequency similar to celestial pulsars, and they occur near “black” holes in the internal elastic lamina (IEL). The IEL separates the endothelial and the surrounding smooth muscle cells in the arterial wall. According to Mark Nelson, “The signals are hard to pick out unless you know what you’re looking for and have a good camera that is fast enough. The calcium events last for less than half a second. They also occur in a very small volume so you have to have both the spatial and temporal resolution to see them. The Andor system has exceptional sensitivity, critical to image critical but very small signals which control the function of living cells.”
Andor enables its customers to break new ground by performing light measurements previously considered impossible. With a portfolio spanning high-performance scientific digital cameras, spectrographs, and microscopy systems, Andor is a world leader in scientific imaging and spectroscopy solutions, and is quoted on the London Stock Exchange (LSE: AND). More information about Andor Technology PLC is available at www.andor.com.
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