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J Physiol. 1992 Aug;454:83-105.

An electrophysiological study of responses evoked in isolated segments of rat tail artery during growth and maturation.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Queensland, Australia.


1. Intracellular recordings from the smooth muscle of isolated segments of the main caudal artery of rats at various ages between 45 and 150 days postnatal were made in order to relate the spontaneous depolarizations and responses to perivascular stimulation at different levels along the artery to the differences in vessel structure and innervation density during growth of the animals. 2. In the outermost smooth muscle cells close to the neuromuscular junctions, spontaneous depolarizations with fast time courses (spontaneous excitatory junction potentials or SEJPs) were recorded. In cells lying deeper in the media, spontaneous depolarizations had a wide range of time courses and amplitudes, but only a few of those could be attributed to electrotonic attenuation of SEJPs. 3. In arterial segments taken from animals of all ages, stimuli which evoked maximal amplitude excitatory junction potentials (EJPs) 1-2 mm caudal to a suction electrode also evoked neurogenic alpha-depolarizations (NADs) with time to peak of 15 s and duration nearly 1 min. Both responses decreased progressively in amplitude along the length of the artery. NADs were blocked by phentolamine (10(-6) M) or idazoxan (10(-7) M) which were without effects on EJPs. 4. During short trains of stimuli (5 at 1 or 10 Hz), EJPs facilitated but to a lesser extent with distance along the tail. Such trains evoked NADs of greater amplitude than those following a single stimulus; these were often preceded by contractions of the artery which were restricted to the region close to the stimulating electrode. 5. Increasing stimulus voltage led to progressive prolongation of the decay phase of the EJP. After the addition of tetrodotoxin (10(-7) M), or in the presence of reduced Ca2+ and raised Mg2+ concentration, slow depolarizing potentials (SDPs) (with time to peak of 150-300 ms and decay lasting > 2 s) were recorded which were graded in amplitude with stimulus voltage. SDPs were attenuated by increasing Ca2+ concentration to 5 mM. These responses often added to the EJP at supramaximal stimulus voltages. 6. The mean amplitudes of the EJP and NAD declined significantly with age, the former to a greater degree than the latter. These changes may be explained by changes in the electrical properties of the media related to hypertrophy of smooth muscle cells as the animals grew, and emphasize the need to allow for such growth effects in studies of young rats.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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