Endothelin-1 (ET-1) is a powerful vasoconstricting peptide. Recent studies showed synthesis of ET-1 and the presence of ET receptors in urinary bladder smooth muscle cells. In the present study, we investigated the possible role of ET-1 in detrusor contraction and its underlying mechanisms in terms of electrical activity. ET-1 caused dose-dependent tonic contraction of bladder smooth muscle strips. Whole cell patch-clamp experiments revealed that ET-1 induced a single transient inward current in the majority of detrusor cells and that additional inward current oscillations were induced in one-third of the cells. The inward current oscillation and tonic contraction shared several characteristic features: 1) both activities lasted for a considerable time after ET-1 washout and 2) only prior application of ETA receptor antagonists, not ETB receptor antagonists, significantly suppressed ET-1-induced contractions and the oscillating inward currents. It was concluded that the inward current oscillation underlies ET-1-induced tonic contraction. Experiments with ion substitution and channel blockers suggested that periodic activation of Ca2+-activated C1- channels caused the oscillating inward currents.
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