Relaxation of vascular smooth muscle by isoproterenol, dibutyryl-cyclic AMP and theophylline

R. C. Webb, D. F. Bohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


There is evidence that the relaxation of vascular smooth muscle produced by isoproterenol or cyclic AMP is mediated by membrane hyperpolarization. The current study investigates the possibility that this hyperpolarization, and hence the relaxation, may be produced by activation of the electrogenic sodium pump. Rat and pig tail artery strips were placed in a 1.0-mM potassium solution for 15 min. This procedure results in a decrease in the activity of the sodium pump. The strips were then made to contract in response to norepinephrine. Two minutes later, the concentration of potassium was increased to 6.0 mM and a relaxation occurred. The amplitude of this relaxation reflects the activity of the sodium pump. Either isoproterenol or dibutyryl-cyclic AMP causes an enhancement (time or degree) of potassium-induced relaxation. Theophylline potentiated potassium-induced relaxation in pig arteries but not in rat arteries. The relaxant action of isoproterenol on 1.0 mM barium contractures of rat arteries was inhibited by treatment with ouabain or with potassium-free solution. Ouabain inhibited the relaxant action of isoproterenol in pig arteries contracted with depolarizing potassium solution but not in rat tail arteries. Dibutyryl-cyclic AMP, theophylline and nitroprusside caused relaxation of serotonin-induced contractions; however, in rat arteries these responses were not inhibited by ouabain or by the absence of potassium. Similar studies on tail arteries from baboons, dogs, pigs and cats showed that relaxation by dibutyryl-cyclic AMP or by theophylline had some dependency on the activity of the sodium pump. These observations are consistent with the following conclusions: 1) isoproterenol and cyclic AMP potentiate the electrogenic pumping of sodium and potassium responsible for potassium-induced relaxation; 2) the relaxing action of isoproterenol, dibutyryl-cyclic AMP and theophylline are dependent upon experimental conditions and the species from which the vascular tissue is obtained; and 3) there is a component of isoproterenol- and cyclic AMP-induced relaxation which is not altered by inhibition of the electrogenic sodium pump in the rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-35
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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