Aim: To investigate the involvement of Cl⁻ channels in endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor (EDHF)-mediated relaxation in rat mesenteric arteries.
Methods: Cl⁻ channel and K(ir) channel activities were studied using whole-cell patch clamping in rat mesenteric arterial smooth muscle cells. Isometric tension of arterial rings was measured in organ chambers.
Results: The volume-activated Cl⁻ current in rat mesenteric arterial smooth muscle cells was abolished by Cl⁻ channel blockers NPPB or DIDS. The EDHF-mediated vasorelaxation was potentiated by NPPB and DIDS. The EDHF response was diminished by a combination of apamin and charybdotoxin, which agreed with the hypothesis that EDHF response involves the release of K(+) via the Ca²(+)-activated K(+) channels in endothelial cells. The elevation of K(+) concentration in bathing solution from 1.2 mmol/L to 11.2 mmol/L induced an arterial relaxation, which was abolished by the combination of BaCl₂ and ouabain. It is consistent to the hypothesis that K(+) activates K(+)/Na(+)-ATPase and inward rectifier K(+) (K(ir)) channels, leading to the hyperpolarization and relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. The K(+)-induced relaxation was augmented by NPPB, DIDS, or withdrawal of Cl⁻ from the bathing solution, which could be reversed by BaCl₂, but not ouabain. The potentiating effect of Cl⁻ channel blockers on K(+)-induced relaxation was probably due to the interaction between Cl⁻ channels and K(ir) channels. Moreover, the K(+)-induced relaxation was potentiated when the arteries were incubated in hyperosmotic solution, which is known to inhibit volume-activated Cl⁻ channels.
Conclusion: The inhibition of Cl⁻ channels, particularly the volume-activated Cl⁻ channels, may potentiate the EDHF-induced vasorelaxation through the K(ir) channels.