Our results indicate that B lymphocytes stimulated with anti-Ig or antigen exhibit repetitive [Ca2+]i transients which persist for hours. The magnitude of these transients favors an important and ongoing role for [Ca2+]i elevation in antigen driven B cell activation. Repetitive Ca2+ transients may prove to be a prevalent mechanism of Ca2+ signaling. In preliminary experiments (with L. E. Samelson and R. D. Klausner), we have observed Ca2+ transients in cloned T cells stimulated with antigen. Woods et al. have described repetitive free Ca2+ transients in hepatocytes stimulated with extracellular ligands promoting glycogenolysis, and suggest that the intervals of base-line [Ca2+]i levels explain the absence of mitochondrial overload in chronically stimulated cells. These considerations apply equally to B lymphocytes and recommend caution in delineating the range of Ca2+-mediated functions by prolonged coculture of cells with Ca2+ ionophores. Our experiments were done in a simple recording chamber with one cell type. No cell interactions were observed. Given the variety of indicator dyes now available, the technical approach we present, augmented by a more sophisticated recording chamber, is a potentially powerful tool for examining the intrinsic, and T- or accessory cell-dependent, physiology of B cell differentiation.

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