Ouabain-induced excitation of colonic smooth muscle due to block of K+ conductance by intracellular Na+ ions
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The mechanism by which ouabain causes excitation of canine colonic circular smooth muscle was investigated. Ouabain-induced depolarization and increase in contractility were related to the concentration of extracellular sodium and prevented by complete substitution of sodium ions with N-methyl-D-glucamine or lithium ions. Absence of external sodium ions did not prevent the depolarization and increase in contractility induced by tetraethylammonium. Exposure of the muscle strips to sodium-free solutions produced a transient hyperpolarization and decrease in the input membrane resistance consistent with the hypothesis that intracellular sodium blocks potassium conductance. The relationship between the membrane potential and the extracellular potassium concentration indicated that the resting membrane potential is mainly determined by the membrane potassium conductance. Our data suggest the following mechanism of action for ouabain: (a) ouabain blocks Na+/K+ pump thereby increasing the intracellular sodium concentration; (b) increase in intracellular sodium inhibits membrane potassium conductance, which depolarizes the membrane and prolongs the slow wave plateau, resulting in an increase of the force of contraction. The direct contribution of the sodium pump to the resting membrane potential, if any, can only be minor (< 6 mV).
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