Calcium concentration-dependent mechanisms through which ketamine relaxes canine airway smooth muscle

Christina M. Pabelick, Keith A. Jones, Kathleen Street, Robert R. Lorenz, David O. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Ketamine is a potent bronchodilator that, in clinically used concentrations, relaxes airway smooth muscle in part by a direct effect. This study explored the role of calcium concentration (Ca2+) in this relaxation. Methods: Canine trachea smooth muscle strips were loaded with the fluorescent probe fura-2 and mounted in a spectrophotometric system to measure force and intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+](i)) simultaneously. Calcium influx was estimated using a manganese quenching technique. Cyclic nucleotides in the airway smooth muscle strips were measured by radioimmunoassay. Results: In smooth muscle strips stimulated with submaximal (0.1 μM) and maximal (10 μM) concentrations of acetylcholine, ketamine caused a concentration-dependent decrease in force and [Ca2+](i). The sensitivity of the force response to ketamine significantly decreased as the intensity of muscarinic receptor stimulation increased; the median effective concentration for relaxation induced by ketamine was 59 μM and 850 μM for tissue contracted by 0.1 μM or 10 μM acetylcholine, respectively (P < 0.05). In contrast, the sensitivity of the [Ca2+](i) response did not depend on the intensity of muscarinic receptor stimulation. Ketamine at 1 mM significantly inhibited calcium influx. Ketamine did not significantly increase cyclic nucleotide concentrations. Conclusions: Ketamine-induced relaxation of canine airway smooth muscle is associated with a decrease in [Ca2+](i) and calcium influx, effects that are not mediated by an increase in cyclic nucleotides; and the sensitivity of the force response to ketamine decreases as the level of preexisting muscle tone increases, an effect that is not explained by differential effects on [Ca2+](i).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1104-1111
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997


  • Anesthetic drug: ketamine
  • Lung, bronchus: bronchoconstriction
  • Measurement techniques: Calcium concentration-fluorescent probe fura-2; cyclic nucleotides; manganese quenching
  • Muscle, smooth: airway; trachea
  • Trachea: canine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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