Calcium ionophore A23187 reveals calcium related cellular stress as "I-Bodies": An old actor in a new role

Amit Verma, Anant Narayan Bhatt, Abdullah Farooque, Suchit Khanna, Saurabh Singh, Bilikere S. Dwarakanath

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Calcimycin (A23187) is an ionophore widely used in studies related to calcium dynamics in cells, but its fluorometric potential to reveal intracellular physiology has not been explored. Exploiting the microenvironment-induced changes in its fluorescence, we show that a brief exposure of cells to non-toxic concentrations (≤3μM) of the ionophore results in the characteristic organization of the ionophore forming brightly fluorescent cytoplasmic bodies termed "I-Bodies", which are closely related to stress linked disturbances/changes in calcium homeostasis. "I-Bodies" appear to be Ca2+ rich intracellular sites formed during stress-induced release of intracellular Ca2+, causing dysfunction and aggregation of mitochondria, providing scaffold for high density packing of A23187. Formation of "I-Bodies" in cells exposed to ionizing radiation and certain anticancer drugs suggest their potential in revealing alterations in calcium signaling and mitochondrial function during (related to) macromolecular damage-induced cell death. The absence of "I-Bodies" in non-malignant cells and their varying numbers in malignant cells with 5 fold increase in fluorescence imply that they can be potential biomarkers of cancer. Thus, "I-Bodies" are novel indicators of endogenous and induced stress linked to disturbances in calcium homeostasis in cells, with a potential to serve as biomarker of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-522
Number of pages13
JournalCell Calcium
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • A23187
  • Calcium
  • Cancer biomarker
  • Mitochondrial aggregation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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