Potassium-induced relaxation as an indicator of Na+-K+ ATPase activity in vascular smooth muscle

R. C. Webb, D. F. Bohr

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146 Scopus citations


Helical strips of rat tail artery were observed to relax in response to potassium after contraction induced by 10<sup>-7</sup> g/ml norepinephrine in potassium-free solution. After several minutes of relaxation, the strips showed an abrupt redevelopment of tension. The amplitude of the potassium-induced relaxation was employed as an index of the activity of the electrogenic sodium-potassium pump and hence of the Na<sup>+</sup>-K<sup>+</sup> ATPase. This assumption seemed justified because the observed amplitude of potassium-induced relaxation paralleled known effects of the following variables on Na<sup>+</sup>-K<sup>+</sup> ATPase: (1) intracellular sodium concentration; (2) ouabain administration; (3) magnesium; (4) temperature, and (5) potassium concentration. The relaxation that occurred in response to potassium is suggested to be due to an enhanced Na<sup>+</sup>-K<sup>+</sup> ATPase resulting in increased electrogenic transport of sodium and potassium and, consequently, hyperpolarization. We propose that potassium-induced relaxation of rat tail artery may be used as a functional indicator of Na<sup>+</sup>-K<sup>+</sup> ATPase activity in vascular smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-207
Number of pages10
JournalBlood Vessels
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1978


  • Electrogenic pump
  • Magnesium
  • Ouabain
  • Potassium
  • Rat tail artery
  • Sodium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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