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J Physiol. 2000 Aug 15;527 Pt 1:139-48.

Swelling-activated cation channels mediate depolarization of rat cerebrovascular smooth muscle by hyposmolarity and intravascular pressure.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405, USA.


1. Increases in intravascular pressure depolarize vascular smooth muscle cells. Based on the attenuating effects of Cl- channel antagonists, it has been suggested that swelling-activated Cl- channels may be integral to this response. Consequently, this study tested for the presence of a swelling-activated Cl- conductance in both intact rat cerebral arteries and isolated rat smooth muscle cells. 2. A 50 mosmol l-1 hyposmotic challenge (300 to 250 mosmol l-1) constricted rat cerebral arteries. This constriction contained all the salient features of a pressure-induced response including smooth muscle cell depolarization and a rise in intracellular Ca2+ that was blocked by voltage-operated Ca2+ channel antagonists. The hyposmotically induced depolarization was attenuated by DIDS (300 microM) and tamoxifen (1 microM), a response consistent with the presence of a swelling-activated Cl- conductance. 3. A swelling-activated current was identified in cerebral vascular smooth muscle cells. This current was sensitive to Cl- channel antagonists including DIDS (300 microM), tamoxifen (1 microM) and IAA-94 (100 microM). However, contrary to expectations, the reversal potential of this swelling-activated current shifted with the Na+ equilibrium potential and not the Cl- equilibrium potential, indicating that the swelling-activated current was carried by cations and not anions. The swelling-activated cation current was blocked by Gd3+, a cation channel antagonist. 4. Gd3+ also blocked both swelling- and pressure-induced depolarization of smooth muscle cells in intact cerebral arteries. 5. These findings suggest that swelling- and pressure-induced depolarization arise from the activation of a cation conductance. This current is inhibited by DIDS, tamoxifen, IAA-94 and gadolinium.

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