Nanomolar ouabain augments caffeine-evoked contractions in rat arteries

Am J Physiol. 1993 Nov;265(5 Pt 1):C1443-8. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1993.265.5.C1443.


Chronic parenteral administration of ouabain to normal rats raises plasma ouabain concentrations to low nanomolar levels and induces hypertension [C. M. Yuan, P. Manunta, J. M. Hamlyn, S. W. Chen, E. Bohen, J. Yeun, F. J. Haddy, and M. B. Pamnani. Hypertension 22: 178-187, 1993 and see also M. P. Blaustein. Am. J. Physiol. 264 (Cell Physiol. 33): C1367-C1387, 1993]. To determine whether rat arteries are sensitive to these low ouabain levels, we tested the effects of various ouabain concentrations on caffeine-evoked contractions (CEC) in rat aortic and small mesenteric artery rings. CEC amplitude was used as a measure of the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) Ca2+ content. Ouabain increased CEC in aortic as well as mesenteric artery rings, but the effects in the aorta were difficult to quantitate because the CEC were often oscillatory. Mesenteric artery, under control conditions and after sensitization with 10-30 nM phenylephrine (PE), exhibited biphasic ouabain dose-CEC response curves. Low concentrations of ouabain (0.1-10 nM) caused small significant increases in CEC, but a further effect was observed only with > or = 10 microM ouabain. PE shifted the ouabain dose-response curve toward lower ouabain concentrations; conversely, ouabain shifted the PE dose-response curve toward lower PE concentrations. It appears that nanomolar concentrations of ouabain can influence vascular responsiveness to vasoconstrictors. We conclude that rat vascular smooth muscle contains both high- and low-affinity ouabain receptors, possibly corresponding to Na+ pumps with alpha 3- and alpha 1-subunit isoforms, respectively.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Caffeine / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mesenteric Arteries / drug effects
  • Mesenteric Arteries / physiology*
  • Muscle Contraction / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / physiology*
  • Ouabain / pharmacology*
  • Phenylephrine / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Phenylephrine
  • Caffeine
  • Ouabain