Noradrenaline contracts arteries by activating voltage-dependent calcium channels

M. T. Nelson, N. B. Standen, J. E. Brayden, J. F. Worley

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Noradrenaline (NA) regulates arterial smooth muscle tone and hence blood vessel diameter and blood flow. NA apparently increases tone by causing a calcium influx through the cell membrane. Two calcium influx pathways have been proposed: voltage-activated calcium channels and NA-activated calcium-permeable channels that are voltage-insensitive. Although voltage-activated calcium channels have been identified in arterial smooth muscle, voltage-insensitive calcium channels activated by NA have not. We show here that NA contractions of rabbit mesenteric arteries increase with depolarization. The increase parallels the elevation of open-state probability (P0) of single, voltage-dependent calcium channels. The action of noradrenaline can be explained by NA-activating voltage-dependent calcium channels, rather than by opening a second type of channel. We show directly that NA increases the open-state probability of single calcium channels. Thus, in the presence of NA, calcium entry through voltage-dependent calcium channels can regulate smooth muscle tone at physiological potentials. These results may have relevance to pathophysiological conditions such as hypertension.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)382-385
    Number of pages3
    Issue number6197
    Publication statusPublished - 1988


    • Animals
    • physiology: Calcium Channels
    • Membrane Potentials
    • physiology: Mesenteric Arteries
    • physiology: Muscle, Smooth, Vascular
    • pharmacology: Norepinephrine
    • Rabbits


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