Relationship between force and Ca2+ concentration in smooth muscle as revealed by measurements on single cells

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Physiology

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Benzofurans; Bufo marinus; Calcium; Cytoplasm; Fura-2; *Muscle Contraction; Muscle, Smooth


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


The role of Ca2+ in regulating smooth muscle contraction was investigated by measuring isometric force and [Ca2+] simultaneously in individual single smooth-muscle cells. [Ca2+] was measured with fura-2 and a high time-resolution dual-wavelength digital microfluorimeter, and force was measured with an ultrasensitive force transducer attached to a probe around which was tied one end of the cell. Both [Ca2+] and force increase after maximal electrical stimulus, with [Ca2+] increasing considerably before the first detectable increase in force. Force development exhibited maximal sensitivity to [Ca2+] between 150 and 500 nM Ca2+. This Ca2+ sensitivity can account for the fact that many physiological stimuli produce full contraction even though such stimuli only increase Ca2+ to 600-800 nM. When Ca2+ was induced to increase rapidly, the relation between [Ca2+] and force exhibited hysteresis. During the onset of contraction, force at a given [Ca2+] was lower than during the muscle's return to rest, thus suggesting the existence of a slow step(s) linking Ca2+ and force development in smooth muscle. The direction of this hysteresis reversed during contractions in which Ca2+ increased slowly, suggesting that the contractile process becomes desensitized to [Ca2+] with time. These relations between calcium and force in intact single smooth-muscle cells differ in many respects from the relation found previously in chemically permeabilized multicellular preparations of smooth muscle.


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Jun;85(11):4109-13.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID