Table of Contents
ISRN Toxicology
Volume 2013, Article ID 184360, 9 pages
Research Article

Role of Calcium Channels in Heavy Metal Toxicity

Istituto di Biofisica, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, 16149 Genova, Italy

Received 27 November 2012; Accepted 23 December 2012

Academic Editors: R. W. Coppock, R. Konig, and R. Mateo

Copyright © 2013 Carla Marchetti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The role of voltage-dependent Ca channels (VDCC) in the membrane permeation of two toxic metals, lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd), was studied in mammalian cells. Both metals interact with Ca-binding sites, but, while Cd influx appears to occur mainly through the same pathways as Ca, Pb is also rapidly taken up by different passive transport systems. Furthermore, I compared the effect of Cd in two Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cell lines, a wild-type and a modified cell line, which were permanently transfected with an L-type VDCC. When cultures were subjected to a brief (30–60 min) exposure to 50–100 μM Cd, apoptotic features, metal accumulation, and death were comparable in both cell lines although, in transfected cells, the effect of Cd treatment was partially prevented by nimodipine (VDCC antagonist) and enhanced by BayK8644 (VDCC agonist). Thus, expression of L-type Ca channels is not sufficient to modify Cd accumulation and sensitivity to a toxicological significant extent and while both Cd and Pb can take advantage of VDCC to permeate the membrane, these transport proteins are not the only, and frequently not the most important, pathways of permeation.