Lymph drainage maintains tissue fluid homeostasis and facilitates immune response. It is promoted by phasic contractions of collecting lymphatic vessels through which lymph is propelled back into the blood circulation. This rhythmic contractile activity (i.e. lymphatic pumping) increases in rate with increase in luminal pressure and relies on activation of nifedipine-sensitive voltage-dependent Ca(2+) channels (VDCCs). Despite their importance, these channels have not been characterized in lymphatic vessels. We used pressure- and wire-myography as well as intracellular microelectrode electrophysiology to characterize the pharmacological and electrophysiological properties of L-type and T-type VDCCs in rat mesenteric lymphatic vessels and evaluated their particular role in the regulation of lymphatic pumping by stretch. We complemented our study with PCR and confocal immunofluorescence imaging to investigate the expression and localization of these channels in lymphatic vessels. Our data suggest a delineating role of VDCCs in stretch-induced lymphatic vessel contractions, as the stretch-induced increase in force of lymphatic vessel contractions was significantly attenuated in the presence of L-type VDCC blockers nifedipine and diltiazem, while the stretch-induced increase in contraction frequency was significantly decreased by the T-type VDCC blockers mibefradil and nickel. The latter effect was correlated with a hyperpolarization. We propose that activation of T-type VDCCs depolarizes membrane potential, regulating the frequency of lymphatic contractions via opening of L-type VDCCs, which drive the strength of contractions.
© 2014 The Authors. The Journal of Physiology © 2014 The Physiological Society.