Fluorescence detection of plant extracts that affect neuronal voltage-gated Ca2+ channels

K. L. Rogers, David W F Fong, J. Redburn, L. R. Griffiths*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Structurally novel compounds able to block voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCCs) are currently being sought for the development of new drugs directed at neurological disorders. Fluorescence techniques have recently been developed to facilitate the analysis of VGCC blockers in a multi-well format. By utilising the small cell lung carcinoma cell line, NCI-H146, we were able to detect changes in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) using a fluorescence microplate reader. NCI-H146 cells have characteristics resembling those of neuronal cells and express multiple VGCC subtypes, including those of the L-, N- and P-type. We found that K+-depolarisation of fluo-3 loaded NCI-H146 cells causes a rapid and transient increase in fluorescence, which was readily detected in a 96-well plate. Extracts of Australian plants, including those used traditionally as headache or pain treatments, were tested in this study to identify those affecting Ca2+ influx following membrane depolarisation of NCI-H146 cells. We found that E. bignoniiflora, A. symphyocarpa and E. vespertilio caused dose-dependent inhibition of K+-depolarised Ca2+ influx, with IC50 values calculated to be 234, 548 and 209 μg/ml, respectively. This data suggests an effect of these extracts on the function of VGCCs in these cells. Furthermore, we found similar effects using a fluorescence laser imaging plate reader (FLIPR) that allows simultaneous measurement of real-time fluorescence in a multi-well plate. Our results indicate that the dichloromethane extract of E. bignoniiflora and the methanolic extract of E. vespertilio show considerable promise as antagonists of neuronal VGCCs. Further analysis is required to characterise the function of the bioactive constituents in these extracts and determine their selectivity on VGCC subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)321-330
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 2002

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

User-Defined Keywords

  • Fluorescence micro-plate reader
  • K-depolarised Ca influx
  • Natural products
  • Voltage-gated Ca channels


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