Calcium and contractions of isolated smooth muscle cells from rat myometrium
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Smooth muscle cells were isolated from estrogenized rat myometrium by collagenase digestion. Electron microscopic examination and measurement of cell lengths by image-splitting micrometry were carried out after fixation with acrolein. Mean lengths of cells before and after isolation were 81.7 and 66.9 micron, respectively. Responses of cells were compared with contractions of isolated strips recorded isometrically. Effects of carbachol and KCl were examined in 2 mM Ca, 2 mM Ca + 4 mM EGTA, and 2 mM Ca + 10(-8) M nitrendipine solution. Carbachol and KCl produced concentration-dependent shortening of isolated cells maximal at 30 s after addition. The concentrations of carbachol required to produce shortenings were about 100-fold less than those required to produce isometric contractions; but no major difference was observed in the concentration dependence of cell shortening and isometric contraction produced by potassium-induced depolarization. In 2 mM Ca solution, there was a phasic response, followed by a tonic response such that more than 50% of maximum cell shortening was maintained for 10 min. However, in 2 mM Ca + 4 mM EGTA or 10(-8) M nitrendipine, the tonic contraction was abolished and cells rapidly relaxed after 30 s. If carbachol was added to cells after varying times in the EGTA-containing solution, the ability to initiate a contraction declined exponentially with a half-time of 160 s. Effects of depolarization by KCl were examined in 2 mM Ca plus nitrendipine and 2 mM Ca + 4 mM EGTA solution. Shortening occurred in 2 mM Ca solution by depolarization but not if nitrendipine was added. Though shortening was not observed in 2 mM Ca + 4 mM EGTA solution by KCl, subsequent addition of carbachol induced shortening. These results suggested that there was an intracellular Ca store site from which Ca was released by carbachol and which was not affected by depolarization in the absence of external Ca. No evidence was obtained that the contraction persists in Ca2+-free medium in isolated cells, which is in agreement with previous findings in small muscle strips in which only a similar transient response was obtained.
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