Spontaneous electrical and contractile activity correlated to 86Rb+ efflux in smooth muscle of guinea-pig mesotubarium
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1. The spontaneous mechanical activity of guinea-pig mesotubarium consists of fused tetanic contractions lasting about 6 min, with a frequency of about four per hour. The muscle is completely relaxed between the contractions. Stretching the relaxed muscle elicits a contraction of the same appearance as the spontaneous ones. Comparison of preparations from oestrus (day 1 of the hormonal cycle), dioestrus (days 9-11) and prooestrus (days 14-15) showed no variation in the pattern of mechanical activity. 2. The resting membrane potential, measured by intracellular microelectrodes, did not differ with hormonal phase (prooestrus: -63.5 +/- 0.84 (n = 16); oestrus: -63.7 +/- 1.6 (n = 5); dioestrus: -61.6 +/- 0.77 (n = 17]. In most recordings a depolarization of a few millivolts occurred during the relaxation period (5-10 min), but in a few cells a more pronounced spontaneous depolarization of 10-15 mV was found. Ouabain (1 microM) caused depolarization by about 9 mV, both in pro- and dioestrus, leading to the initiation of maintained repetitive spiking. 3. Contraction is preceded by a depolarization lasting 10-30 s, and when a threshold is reached a train of slow waves and spikes is elicited. The frequency of slow waves and the number of spikes on each slow wave progressively decrease during the contraction, until spiking eventually ceases. 4. The spikes are resistant to tetrodotoxin (0.5 microM) and disappear in Ca2+-free medium, which also causes membrane depolarization. The duration of contractions increased with Ca2+ concentration in the range 1-5 mM. 5. The rate of 86Rb+ efflux, expressed as fractional release in 2 min intervals, showed a consistent variation during the contractile cycle in preparations with regular spontaneous activity. Relative to the value at the end of the relaxed period the efflux rate increased by about twofold during the contraction. From the beginning of the relaxed period after the contraction the efflux rate decreased by about 25% until the beginning of the next contraction. 6. It is concluded that the contractile activity in the mesotubarium, as opposed to that of the fallopian tube (Lydrup & Hellstrand, 1986a), is independent of the hormonal phase, including the period around ovulation. The mechanism for initiation of the trains of action potentials associated with spontaneous contractions may involve a gradual decrease of permeability of K+ channels or activity of the Na+-K+ pump during the relaxed period.