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Raising extracellular K+ concentration ([K+](o)) around mesenteric resistance arteries reverses depolarization and contraction to phenylephrine. As smooth muscle depolarizes and intracellular Ca(2+) and tension increase, this effect of K+ is suppressed, whereas efflux of cellular K+ through Ca(2+)-activated K+ (K(Ca)) channels is increased. We investigated whether K+ efflux through K(Ca) suppresses the action of exogenous K+ and whether it prestimulates smooth muscle Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase. Under isometric conditions, 10.8 mM [K+](o) had no effect on arteries contracted >10 mN, unless 100 nM iberiotoxin (IbTX), 100 nM charybdotoxin (ChTX), and/or 50 nM apamin were present. Simultaneous measurements of membrane potential and tension showed that phenylephrine depolarized and contracted arteries to -32.2 +/- 2.3 mV and 13.8 +/- 1.6 mN (n = 5) after blockade of K(Ca), but 10.8 mM K+ reversed fully the responses (107.6 +/- 8.6 and 98.8 +/- 0.6%, respectively). Under isobaric conditions and preconstriction with phenylephrine, 10.7 mM [K+](o) reversed contraction at both 50 mmHg (77.0 +/- 8.5%, n = 9) and 80 mmHg (83.7 +/- 5.5%, n = 5). However, in four additional vessels at 80 mmHg, raising K+ failed to reverse contraction unless ChTX was present. Increases in isometric and decreases in isobaric tension with phenylephrine were augmented by either ChTX or ouabain (100 microM), whereas neither inhibitor altered tension under resting conditions. Inhibition of cellular K+ efflux facilitates hyperpolarization and relaxation to exogenous K+, possibly by indirectly reducing the background activation of Na(+)-K(+)-ATPase.

Original publication




Journal article


Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol

Publication Date





H606 - H614


Animals, Apamin, Charybdotoxin, Drug Combinations, Electrophysiology, Enzyme Activation, In Vitro Techniques, Male, Mesenteric Arteries, Peptides, Phenylephrine, Potassium, Potassium Channel Blockers, Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated, Pressure, Rats, Rats, Wistar, Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase, Vasoconstrictor Agents, Vasodilation