Dr Christof Schwiening

Christof Schwiening

University position


Dr Christof Schwiening is pleased to consider applications from prospective PhD students.


Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience



Home page

http://rct-cjs3.pdn.cam.ac.uk (personal home page)

Research Themes

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Systems and Computational Neuroscience


Electrical activity of neurones is associated with calcium influx through various channels. Most neurones extrude this calcium very rapidly on the plasma-membrane calcium pump (PMCA). Our research shows that this extrusion occurs in exchange for hydrogen ions, resulting in an intracellular acidification. We believe that this causes a significant and important local pH change which shapes the activity of local proteins. Disorders, such as P/Q-type channelopathies support this hypothesis since they arise from reduced calcium fluxes and can be treated by making pH shifts larger. Currently we are using the flash release of acid inside neurones to look at the effect of acid transients on local neuronal function. We have two confocal microscopes and associated electrophysiology rigs. Projects cover a range of model systems from Drosophila larva neuromuscular junctions, through snail neurones through to rat Purkinje and cortical neurones.

Research Focus


neuronal excitability

calcium signalling

synaptic mechanisms


Clinical conditions

Cerebellar ataxias


Movement disorders


Calcium imaging

Computational modelling

Confocal microscopy

Electrophysiological recording techniques

Intracellular recording


Specialized imaging software available free from my website

Whole cell patch clamp


No collaborators listed

Associated News Items



Low JT, Zavortink M, Mitchell JM, Gan WJ, Do OH, Schwiening CJ, Gaisano HY, Thorn P (2014), “Insulin secretion from beta cells in intact mouse islets is targeted towards the vasculature.” Diabetologia 57(8):1655-63 Details


Caldwell L, Harries P, Sydlik S, Schwiening CJ (2013), “Presynaptic pH and vesicle fusion in Drosophila larvae neurones.” Synapse 67(11):729-40 Details


Martin CA, Siedlecka U, Kemmerich K, Lawrence J, Cartledge J, Guzadhur L, Brice N, Grace AA, Schwiening C, Terracciano CM, Huang CL (2012), “Reduced Na(+) and higher K(+) channel expression and function contribute to right ventricular origin of arrhythmias in Scn5a+/- mice.” Open Biol 2(6):120072 Details

Schwiening CJ (2012), “A brief historical perspective: Hodgkin and Huxley.” J Physiol 590(Pt 11):2571-5 Details

Schwiening CJ (2012), “More about mouthpieces.” J Am Dent Assoc 143(3):218, 220; author reply 220, 222, 224 Details


Schwiening CJ, Mason MJ, Thompson M (2011), “Absolute power, not sex, promotes perspiration.” Exp Physiol 96(5):556-8; author reply 559-60 Details


Behrendorff N, Floetenmeyer M, Schwiening C, Thorn P (2010), “Protons released during pancreatic acinar cell secretion acidify the lumen and contribute to pancreatitis in mice.” Gastroenterology 139(5):1711-20, 1720.e1-5 Details

Huang J, Liu CH, Hughes SA, Postma M, Schwiening CJ, Hardie RC (2010), “Activation of TRP channels by protons and phosphoinositide depletion in Drosophila photoreceptors.” Curr Biol 20(3):189-97 Details

Zhang Y, Fraser JA, Schwiening C, Zhang Y, Killeen MJ, Grace AA, Huang CL (2010), “Acute atrial arrhythmogenesis in murine hearts following enhanced extracellular Ca(2+) entry depends on intracellular Ca(2+) stores.” Acta Physiol (Oxf) 198(2):143-58 Details


Behrendorff N, Shukla A, Schwiening C, Thorn P (2009), “Local dynamic changes in confined extracellular environments within organs.” Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 36(10):1010-5 Details

Zhang Y, Schwiening C, Killeen MJ, Zhang Y, Ma A, Lei M, Grace AA, Huang CL (2009), “Pharmacological changes in cellular Ca2+ homeostasis parallel initiation of atrial arrhythmogenesis in murine Langendorff-perfused hearts.” Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 36(10):969-80 Details


Gaughwin PM, Caldwell MA, Anderson JM, Schwiening CJ, Fawcett JW, Compston DA, Chandran S (2006), “Astrocytes promote neurogenesis from oligodendrocyte precursor cells.” Eur J Neurosci 23(4):945-56 Details

Pantazis A, Keegan P, Postma M, Schwiening CJ (2006), “The effect of neuronal morphology and membrane-permeant weak acid and base on the dissipation of depolarization-induced pH gradients in snail neurons.” Pflugers Arch 452(2):175-87 Details


Fraser JA, Middlebrook CE, Usher-Smith JA, Schwiening CJ, Huang CL (2005), “The effect of intracellular acidification on the relationship between cell volume and membrane potential in amphibian skeletal muscle.” J Physiol 563(Pt 3):745-64 Details


Balasubramaniam R, Chawla S, Mackenzie L, Schwiening CJ, Grace AA, Huang CL (2004), “Nifedipine and diltiazem suppress ventricular arrhythmogenesis and calcium release in mouse hearts.” Pflugers Arch 449(2):150-8 Details

Ferenczi EA, Fraser JA, Chawla S, Skepper JN, Schwiening CJ, Huang CL (2004), “Membrane potential stabilization in amphibian skeletal muscle fibres in hypertonic solutions.” J Physiol 555(Pt 2):423-38 Details

Joannides A, Gaughwin P, Schwiening C, Majed H, Sterling J, Compston A, Chandran S (2004), “Efficient generation of neural precursors from adult human skin: astrocytes promote neurogenesis from skin-derived stem cells.” Lancet 364(9429):172-8 Details


Schwiening CJ, Willoughby D (2002), “Depolarization-induced pH microdomains and their relationship to calcium transients in isolated snail neurones.” J Physiol 538(Pt 2):371-82 Details

Willoughby D, Schwiening CJ (2002), “Electrically evoked dendritic pH transients in rat cerebellar Purkinje cells.” J Physiol 544(Pt 2):487-99 Details

Zietlow R, Sinclair SR, Schwiening CJ, Dunnett SB, Fawcettt JW (2002), “The release of excitatory amino acids, dopamine, and potassium following transplantation of embryonic mesencephalic dopaminergic grafts to the rat striatum, and their effects on dopaminergic neuronal survival in vitro.” Cell Transplant 11(7):637-52 Details


Willoughby D, Thomas R, Schwiening C (2001), “The effects of intracellular pH changes on resting cytosolic calcium in voltage-clamped snail neurones.” J Physiol 530(Pt 3):405-16 Details


Willoughby D, Thomas RC, Schwiening CJ (1999), “A role for Na+/H+ exchange in pH regulation in Helix neurones.” Pflugers Arch 438(6):741-9 Details


Willoughby D, Thomas RC, Schwiening CJ (1998), “Comparison of simultaneous pH measurements made with 8-hydroxypyrene-1,3,6-trisulphonic acid (HPTS) and pH-sensitive microelectrodes in snail neurones.” Pflugers Arch 436(4):615-22 Details


Schwiening CJ, Thomas RC (1996), “Relationship between intracellular calcium and its muffling measured by calcium iontophoresis in snail neurones.” J Physiol 491 ( Pt 3):621-33 Details


Bevensee MO, Schwiening CJ, Boron WF (1995), “Use of BCECF and propidium iodide to assess membrane integrity of acutely isolated CA1 neurons from rat hippocampus.” J Neurosci Methods 58(1-2):61-75 Details


Gupta A, Schwiening CJ, Boron WF (1994), “Effects of CGRP, forskolin, PMA, and ionomycin on pHi dependence of Na-H exchange in UMR-106 cells.” Am J Physiol 266(4 Pt 1):C1088-92 Details

Schwiening CJ, Boron WF (1994), “Regulation of intracellular pH in pyramidal neurones from the rat hippocampus by Na(+)-dependent Cl(-)-HCO3- exchange.” J Physiol 475(1):59-67 Details


Schwiening CJ, Kennedy HJ, Thomas RC (1993), “Calcium-hydrogen exchange by the plasma membrane Ca-ATPase of voltage-clamped snail neurons.” Proc Biol Sci 253(1338):285-9 Details


Schwiening CJ, Thomas RC (1992), “Mechanism of pHi regulation by locust neurones in isolated ganglia: a microelectrode study.” J Physiol 447:693-709 Details