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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Jan;87(1):21-8. doi: 10.1139/Y08-104.

Current perspective on differential communication in small resistance arteries.

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Smooth Muscle Research Group, Libin Cardiovascular Institute and Department of Physiology and Biophysics, HMRB-G86, Heritage Medical Research Building, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, AB T2N 4N1, Canada.


Blood flow is controlled by an integrated network of resistance arteries that are coupled in series and parallel with one another. To dramatically alter tissue perfusion as required during periods of high metabolic demand, arterial networks must dilate in a coordinated manner. Gap junctions facilitate arterial coordination by enabling electrical stimuli to conduct among endothelial and (or) smooth muscle cells. The goal of this review was to provide an introduction to the field of vascular communication, the process of intercellular conduction, and the manner in which key properties influence charge flow. After a brief historical introduction, we establish the idea that electrical stimuli conduct differentially among neighbouring endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Highlighting recent studies that have synergistically combined computational and experimental approaches, this perspective explores how specific structural, electrical, and gap junctional properties enable electrical phenomenon to conduct differentially. To close, the concept of differential communication is functionally integrated into a mechanistic understanding of blood flow control.

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