Isometric and isotonic relaxation in venous smooth muscle
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The time course of relaxation under isometric and isotonic conditions was studied in preparations of rat portal vein which maintained regular phasic contractions in solutions with increased [K-+] and [Ca-2+]. It was found that the smooth muscle during isotonic lengthening was able to carry the afterload for a period of time which was longer than expected from the control isometric response. The difference was largest for afterloads corresponding to about half the isometric peak force. The terminal decline in force was identical in afterloaded and purely isometric responses. Inhibitory influences of isotonic shortening causing increased rates of relaxation, as reported for striated muscles, were not observed. The differences in the course of relaxation between isotonic and isometric responses of portal vein could not be attributed to variations in membrane excitation. It also appears that the differences are not due to changes in release or uptake of activator calcium, or to presence of viscous elements in the tissue. It is suggested that the ability of the smooth muscle to carry load over a relatively long period during isotonic relaxation may be attributed to the characteristics of the instantaneous force-velocity relations in the force range above Po.