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J Clin Invest. Jun 1992; 89(6): 1988–1994.
PMCID: PMC295901

Magnesium relaxes arterial smooth muscle by decreasing intracellular Ca2+ without changing intracellular Mg2+.


Elevations in extracellular [Mg2+] ([Mg2+]o) relax vascular smooth muscle. We tested the hypothesis that elevated [Mg2+]o induces relaxation through reductions in myoplasmic [Ca2+] and myosin light chain phosphorylation without changing intracellular [Mg2+] ([Mg2+]i). Histamine stimulation of endothelium-free swine carotid medial tissues was associated with increases in both Fura 2- and aequorin-estimated myoplasmic [Ca2+], myosin phosphorylation, and force. Elevated [Mg2+]o decreased myoplasmic [Ca2+] and force to near resting values. However, elevated [Mg2+]o only transiently decreased myosin phosphorylation values: sustained [Mg2+]o-induced decreases in myoplasmic [Ca2+] and force were associated with inappropriately high myosin phosphorylation values. The elevated myosin phosphorylation during [Mg2+]o-induced relaxation was entirely on serine 19, the Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase substrate. Myoplasmic [Mg2+] (estimated with Mag-Fura 2) did not significantly increase with elevated [Mg2+]o. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that increased [Mg2+]o induces relaxation by decreasing myoplasmic [Ca2+] without changing [Mg2+]i. These data also demonstrate dissociation of myosin phosphorylation from myoplasmic [Ca2+] and force during Mg(2+)-induced relaxation. This finding suggests the presence of a phosphorylation-independent (yet potentially Ca(2+)-dependent) mechanism for regulation of force in vascular smooth muscle.

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