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Eur J Pharmacol. 1998 Aug 21;355(2-3):149-57.

The difference in the inhibitory mechanisms of papaverine on vascular and intestinal smooth muscles.

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  • 1Division of Veterinary Pharmacology, Nippon Veterinary and Animal Science University, Musashino, Tokyo, Japan.


Papaverine (0.3-100 microM) more potently inhibited phenylephrine (1 microM)-induced contraction than 65 mM K+-induced contraction of the aorta, while it equally inhibited contractions induced by 65 mM K+ and carbachol (1 microM) in ileal smooth muscle. In phenylephrine-treated aorta, papaverine (1-10 microM) increased the cAMP and cGMP content. However, in carbachol-treated ileum, 30 microM papaverine partially increased the cAMP content while it maximally relaxed the preparation. In fura2-loaded aorta, papaverine (0.3-10 microM) inhibited both the contraction and the increase in intracellular Ca2+ level ([Ca2+]i) induced by phenylephrine in parallel. However, papaverine inhibited carbachol-induced contraction with only a small decrease in [Ca2+]i. Papaverine (1-30 microM) inhibited the carbachol-induced increase in oxidized flavoproteins, an indicator of increased mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation, in ileal smooth muscle whereas it did not change the phenylephrine-induced increase in the aorta. These results suggest that papaverine inhibits smooth muscle contraction mainly by the accumulation of cAMP and/or cGMP due to the inhibition of phosphodiesterase in the aorta whereas, in ileal smooth muscle, papaverine inhibits smooth muscle contraction mainly by the inhibition of mitochondrial respiration.

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