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Am J Physiol. 1992 Sep;263(3 Pt 2):H647-59.

Cellular mechanisms involved in the vascular myogenic response.

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  • 1Microcirculation Research Institute, College of Medicine, Texas A & M University Health Science Center, College Station 77843.


By definition, the myogenic response is the contraction of a blood vessel that occurs when intravascular pressure is elevated and, conversely, the vasodilation that follows a reduction in pressure. Over the last several decades numerous investigators have demonstrated the importance of the myogenic response in the local regulations of blood flow, capillary pressure, and in the generation of basal vascular tone. Despite the considerable information obtained from these investigations, information about the cellular mechanisms that underlie this response has been slow to accumulate. Because of the physiological significance of the myogenic response, its mechanistic basis represents an important subject for research. Currently, there are several broad hypotheses concerning the sequence of events that couple changes in intravascular pressure or stretch with alterations in vascular smooth muscle activation. These hypotheses include 1) altered membrane properties leading to activation of ion channels; 2) modulation of biochemical cell-signaling pathways within vascular smooth muscle; 3) length-dependent changes in contractile protein function; and 4) endothelial-dependent modulation of vascular smooth muscle tone. This review summarizes current work relative to each of these hypotheses and describes a possible sequence of events to account for myogenic activation of vascular smooth muscle.

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