Cl⁻ channels in smooth muscle cells

Pflugers Arch. 2014 May;466(5):861-72. doi: 10.1007/s00424-013-1357-2.


In smooth muscle cells (SMCs), the intracellular chloride ion (Cl−) concentration is high due to accumulation by Cl−/HCO3− exchange and Na+–K+–Cl− cotransportation. The equilibrium potential for Cl− (ECl) is more positive than physiological membrane potentials (Em), with Cl− efflux inducing membrane depolarization. Early studies used electrophysiology and nonspecific antagonists to study the physiological relevance of Cl− channels in SMCs. More recent reports have incorporated molecular biological approaches to identify and determine the functional significance of several different Cl− channels. Both "classic" and cGMP-dependent calcium (Ca2+)-activated (ClCa) channels and volume-sensitive Cl− channels are present, with TMEM16A/ANO1, bestrophins, and ClC-3, respectively, proposed as molecular candidates for these channels. The cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) has also been described in SMCs. This review will focus on discussing recent progress made in identifying each of these Cl− channels in SMCs, their physiological functions, and contribution to diseases that modify contraction, apoptosis, and cell proliferation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potentials
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Smooth Muscle / physiology


  • Chloride Channels