Oscillatory contractions in vertebral arteries from hypertensive subjects

R. Clinton Webb, Kevin D. Schreur, Stephen M. Papadopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Summary. In response to several agonists, tail arteries from spontaneously hypertensive stroke prone rats (SHRSP) contract in an oscillatory manner not observed in tail arteries from normotensive rats. This study evaluated whether oscillations in force development characterize the contractile pattern of vertebral arteries from hypertensive humans. Vertebral arteries were isolated and studied within 18–24 h post mortem. Helical strips of the arteries were mounted in a muscle bath for isometric force recording. Contractile responses to serotonin (10‐7M) and endothelin (10‐8M) in arteries from hypertensive subjects were characterized by fluctuations in force development whereas those in arteries from normotensive subjects usually remained constant with time. The frequency of the response was approximately 1–2 contraction/relaxation cycles per min. This pattern of oscillatory contractile activity was observed in all but one of the hypertensive arteries (n= 15), and in approximately 40% of the normotensive arteries (n= 12). Oscillatory activity was converted to maintained contraction by nifedipine (10‐7M) which also caused relaxation of the contractile response. Relaxation to acetylcholine (10‐6M) and nitroglycerin (10‐6M) did not alter the oscillatory contractions. Endothelium removal did not influence the oscillatory pattern of contraction. These observations suggest that oscillatory contractile activity in vertebral arteries from hypertensive subjects is related to abnormal calcium entry into the smooth muscle cells. This altered membrane property may contribute to changes in vascular reactivity in hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992


  • calcium
  • calcium channel blockers
  • endothelin
  • potassium
  • serotonin
  • vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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