Relationship between transmural potential difference and smooth muscle slow waves and contractility in the rabbit small intestine in vitro
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The relationship between transmural potential difference (PD) and smooth muscle electrical and mechanical activity was investigated in the rabbit ileum in vitro. Transmural PD was monitored using agar salt bridge electrodes connected via calomel half cells to an electrometer. Force displacement transducers recorded predominantly longitudinal smooth muscle activity. Concurrently, predominantly circular muscle activity was recorded at three sites using intraluminal pressure probes. At the same sites, suction electrodes monitored electrical activity of the smooth muscle. In all experiments, fluctuations in transmural PD were temporally linked to smooth muscle mechanical and electrical activity. The frequency of PD oscillations, electrical slow waves, and cyclic pressure changes were identical within each segment. Adrenaline abolished smooth muscle electrical spiking, all mechanical activity, and transmural fluctuations in PD. However, the slow waves were not abolished, though their frequency was increased. Phentolamine but not propranolol reversed the effects of adrenaline, thus slow wave frequency is influenced by alpha-adrenergic stimulation in the rabbit ileum. In conclusion, oscillations in transmural PD are unrelated to the ionic processes associated with the slow wave. However, they are in some way linked to smooth muscle contractile activity, possibly via an intrinsic neural mechanism as observed in the guinea pig.
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