Effects of SCN- substitution for Cl- on tension, [Ca2+](i), and ionic currents in vascular smooth muscle

Paul R. Standley, Feng Zhang, Jyotsna Ravi, Jeffrey L. Ram, James R. Sowers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Substitution of thiocyanate ions (SCN-) for chloride ions (Cl-) in the extracellular medium of aortic rings and strips causes a biphasic contractile response; initial relaxation followed by sustained contraction. Alterations in these responses are sex-specific, and may elucidate fundamental differences in vascular function between males and females. In order to investigate the role of changes in intracellular Ca2+ ([Ca2+](i)) in these changes in tension, we investigated effects of SCN- on [Ca2+](i) and ionic currents in vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMC). Extracellular substitution of SCN- for Cl- caused a biphasic change in [Ca2+](i). Initially, [Ca2+](i) decreased, reaching a minimum within 1-2 min, subsequently returned to original levels within 4-5 min, and then increased to a higher plateau over the next 10 minutes. This pattern of change in [Ca2+](i) is identical to the pattern of tension changes in aortic rings, but it occurs somewhat faster. Partial substitution of SCN- for Cl- elicited increased, but no preceding decrease in [Ca2+](i). In the absence of external Ca2+, anion substitution elicited the decrease in [Ca2+](i) but not the subsequent increase. Verapamil (1 μM) blocked the increased [Ca2+](i) phase but not the decreased [Ca2+](i) phase; whereas, R+ verapamil (up to 5 μM for 20 min), an inactive enantiomer, caused no change. Ionic current measurements obtained using whole cell patch and current clamp techniques revealed two responses to anion substitution: (a) a rapid, transient outward shift in holding current, and (b) a sustained increase in peak current and a hyperpolarizing shift in voltage sensitivity of Ca2+ channels. The calcium channel blocker PN200-110 blocked SCNenhanced current but had no effect on the changes in holding current. S- verapamil, but not R+ verapamil, reduced SCNenhanced current. In current clamp mode, SCN- caused an initial hyperpolarization followed by a slow depolarization punctuated by spikes. Thus, SCN- causes changes in vascular smooth muscle [Ca2+](i) that could underlie both phases of its effects on tension in isolated aortas and may be explained by the following model: an initial outward shift in current causes hyperpolarization with a consequent decrease in cell excitability, and the somewhat slower increase in Ca2+ channel excitability eventually leads to enhanced calcium influx and tension. These data shed light on possible mechanisms underlying gender-related differences in VSMC physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)739-752
Number of pages14
JournalLife Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jul 26 1996


  • intracellular calcium
  • thiocyanate
  • vascular smooth muscle
  • vascular tone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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