Structural and functional study of control of canine tracheal smooth muscle
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The structural bases for myogenic and neurogenic control of canine tracheal smooth muscle were studied. At optimum lengths, strips of muscle showed insignificant neurogenic or myogenic tone. Atropine and/or tetrodotoxin blocked the contractile responses elicited on electrical field stimulation of intrinsic nerves. After raising the tone with tetraethylammonium ion and in the presence of atropine, field stimulation of nerves caused a relaxation, a major component of which was blocked by propranolol and/or tetrodotoxin, suggesting an effect mediated through interaction of mediator released from sympathetic nerves with beta-adrenergic receptors. Electron microscopic studies revealed gap junctions between extensions of smooth-muscle cells and a sparse innervation. The axonal varicosities, corresponding to cholinergic (predominantly) and adrenergic (occasionally) nerves, were seen predominantly in the clefts between cell bundles. The physiological responses were compared with the morphological features. Although this muscle exhibits multiunit behavior in vitro, implying that nerves initiate the coordinate activity, its ultrastructural features suggest a potential for single-unit behavior.
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