Tetrandrine is not a selective calcium channel blocker in vascular smooth muscle.
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The effects of tetrandrine (Tet) on the contractile properties of rat aortic ring preparations were studied to test the hypothesis that Tet is a Ca2+ antagonist acting on voltage-operated Ca2+ channels (VOC). The tests were performed on contractions induced by depolarizing concentrations of KCl and by alpha 1-adrenoceptor agonist, phenylephrine (Phe). These vascular effects of Tet were compared to those of nifedipine (Nif). We found that Tet behaved qualitatively similar to, but less potent than, Nif in that it inhibited KCl-induced contraction in a concentration-dependent fashion and its inhibitory effect was long-lasting. However, the effects on Phe-induced contraction of Tet was different from those of Nif in that the extracellular Ca(2+)-dependent contraction was inhibited by Tet, but not by Nif. Tet (60 mumol.L-1) completely inhibited the 45Ca2+ uptake induced by KCl and Phe in rat aortic muscle strips. When the aortic muscle contractile response was induced by addition of Ca2+ following depletion of intracellular stores by Phe in the presence of sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-pump inhibitor, cyclopiazonic acid, Tet (60 mumol.L-1) was more effective than Nif 1 mumol.L-1 in inhibiting such a response to extracellularly added Ca2+. Furthermore, Tet, but not Nif, also significantly inhibited the contraction to Phe in Ca(2+)-free medium. Collectively, these results led us to conclude that Tet does not behave as a selective VOC blocker like Nif.
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