PubMed 10502653

Title: Ion currents in smooth muscle cells from human small bronchioles: presence of an inward rectifier K+ current and three types of large conductance K+ channel.

Authors: V A Snetkov, J P Ward

Journal, date & volume: Exp. Physiol., 1999 Sep , 84, 835-846

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Bronchoconstriction of small bronchioles plays a major role in the increase in airway resistance following agonist challenge. There is evidence that the airway smooth muscle (ASM) of small bronchioles differs functionally from that in larger airways. Little is known however about the electrophysiology of small bronchioles. Ion currents were therefore studied in airway smooth muscle cells freshly dissociated from human intralobular bronchioles, with a diameter between 0.3 and 1.0 mm. As previously reported for human large airways, the major outward current in these cells was due to activity of large conductance K+ (BK) channels, with a relatively minor component due to a voltage-gated delayed rectifier current (IDR), which was only observed in 30 % of cells. Three distinct types of iberiotoxin- and TEA-sensitive large conductance K+ channel contributed to large conductance K+ current (IBK). These included a highly voltage- and Ca2+-sensitive 200 pS channel previously reported in human large airways, and two smaller channels of 150 and 100 pS previously seen only in human fetal or cultured ASM. In contrast to large airways, ASM cells from bronchioles also demonstrated a voltage-gated inward rectifier current (IIR). IIR was activated by hyperpolarisation below the K+ equilibrium potential and could be blocked by submillimolar concentrations of Cs+ or Ba2+, and partially by physiological concentrations of Na+. Corresponding single channels with a conductance of 17 pS could also be recorded in the cell-attached configuration. A small voltage-independent current was also observed which was resistant to classic K+ and Cl- channel blockers but which could be abolished by replacement of Na+ with the impermeant cation N-methyl-D-glucamine (NMDG+). Corresponding non-selective single channels of 20 pS could be seen in inside-out mode. These results demonstrate that ASM from small bronchioles differs in terms of ion currents and channels from ASM derived from large airways, with possible implications for function.