Altered calcium sensitivity contributes to enhanced contractility of collateral-dependent coronary arteries.
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Coronary arteries distal to chronic occlusion exhibit enhanced vasoconstriction and impaired relaxation compared with nonoccluded arteries. In this study, we tested the hypotheses that an increase in peak Ca(2+) channel current density and/or increased Ca(2+) sensitivity contributes to altered contractility in collateral-dependent coronary arteries. Ameroid occluders were surgically placed around the proximal left circumflex coronary artery (LCX) of female miniature swine. Segments of epicardial arteries ( approximately 1 mm luminal diameter) were isolated from the LCX and nonoccluded left anterior descending (LAD) arteries 24 wk after Ameroid placement. Contractile responses to depolarization (10-100 mM KCl) were significantly enhanced in LCX compared with size-matched LAD arterial rings [concentration of KCl causing 50% of the maximal contractile response (EC(50)); LAD = 41.7 +/- 2.3, LCX = 34.3 +/- 2.7 mM]. However, peak Ca(2+) channel current was not altered in isolated smooth muscle cells from LCX compared with LAD (-5.29 +/- 0.42 vs. -5.68 +/- 0.55 pA/pF, respectively). Furthermore, whereas half-maximal activation of Ca(2+) channel current occurred at nearly the same membrane potential in LAD and LCX, half-maximal inactivation was shifted to a more positive membrane potential in LCX cells. Simultaneous measures of contractile tension and intracellular free Ca(2+) (fura 2) levels in arterial rings revealed that significantly more tension was produced per unit change in fura 2 ratio in LCX compared with LAD in response to KCl but not during receptor-agonist stimulation with endothelin-1. Taken together, our data indicate that coronary arteries distal to chronic occlusion display increased Ca(2+) sensitivity in response to high KCl-induced depolarization, independent of changes in whole cell peak Ca(2+) channel current. Unaltered Ca(2+) sensitivity in endothelin-stimulated arteries suggests more than one mechanism regulating Ca(2+) sensitization in coronary smooth muscle.