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Br J Pharmacol. 2001 Sep;134(1):1-5.

Suppression of K(+)-induced hyperpolarization by phenylephrine in rat mesenteric artery: relevance to studies of endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.


In intact mesenteric arteries, increasing [K(+)]o by 5 mM hyperpolarized both endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Subsequent exposure to 10 microM phenylephrine depolarized both cell types which were then repolarized by a 5 mM increase in [K(+)]o. In endothelium-denuded vessels, increasing [K(+)]o by 5 mM hyperpolarized the smooth muscle but K(+) had no effect after depolarization by 10 microM phenylephrine. On subsequent exposure to iberiotoxin plus 4-aminopyridine, the repolarizing action of 5 mM K(+) was restored. In endothelium-intact vessels exposed to phenylephrine, pretreatment with a gap junction inhibitor (gap 27) reduced K(+)-mediated smooth muscle repolarization without affecting the endothelial cell response. It is concluded that phenylephrine-induced efflux of K(+) via smooth muscle K(+) channels produces a local increase in [K(+)]o which impairs repolarization to added K(+). Thus, studies involving vessels precontracted with agonists which increase [K(+)]o maximize the role of gap junctions and minimize any contribution to the EDHF pathway from endothelium-derived K(+).

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