Congo red modulates ACh-induced Ca2+ oscillations in single pancreatic acinar cells of mice

Ze Bing Huang, Hai Yan Wang, Na Na Sun, Jing Ke Wang, Meng Qin Zhao, Jian Xin Shen, Ming Gao, Ronald P Hammer, Xue Gong Fan, Jie Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Aim: Congo red, a secondary diazo dye, is usually used as an indicator for the presence of amyloid fibrils. Recent studies show that congo red exerts neuroprotective effects in a variety of models of neurodegenerative diseases. However, its pharmacological profile remains unknown. In this study, we investigated the effects of congo red on ACh-induced Ca2+ oscillations in mouse pancreatic acinar cells in vitro. Methods: Acutely dissociated pancreatic acinar cells of mice were prepared. A U-tube drug application system was used to deliver drugs into the bath. Intracellular Ca2+ oscillations were monitored by whole-cell recording of Ca2+ -activated Cl- currents and by using confocal Ca2+ imaging. For intracellular drug application, the drug was added in pipette solution and diffused into cell after the whole-cell configuration was established. Results: Bath application of ACh (10 nmol/L) induced typical Ca2+ oscillations in dissociated pancreatic acinar cells. Addition of congo red (1, 10, 100 μmol/L) dose-dependently enhanced Ach-induced Ca2+ oscillations, but congo red alone did not induce any detectable response. Furthermore, this enhancement depended on the concentrations of ACh: congo red markedly enhanced the Ca2+ oscillations induced by ACh (10-30 nmol/L), but did not alter the Ca2+ oscillations induced by ACh (100-10000 nmol/L). Congo red also enhanced the Ca2+ oscillations induced by bath application of IP3 (30 μmol/L). Intracellular application of congo red failed to alter ACh-induced Ca2+ oscillations. Conclusion: Congo red significantly modulates intracellular Ca2+ signaling in pancreatic acinar cells, and this pharmacological effect should be fully considered when developing congo red as a novel therapeutic drug.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1514-1520
Number of pages7
JournalActa Pharmacologica Sinica
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 24 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ACh; IP; Ca oscillation; whole-cell recording; Ca image
  • Congo red
  • pancreatic acinar cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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