The effects of ethanol on Ca2+ sensitivity in airway smooth muscle

Motohiko Hanazaki, Keith A. Jones, William J. Perkins, David O. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Halothane and other volatile anesthetics relax airway smooth muscle (ASM) in part by decreasing the amount of force produced for a given intracellular Ca2+ concentration (the Ca2+ sensitivity) during muscarinic receptor stimulation. To determine whether this is a unique property of the volatile anesthetics, we tested the hypothesis that ethanol, another compound with anesthetic properties, also inhibits calcium sensitization induced by muscarinic stimulation of ASM. A β-escin permeabilized canine tracheal smooth muscle preparation was used. Ethanol was applied to permeabilized muscles stimulated with calcium in either the absence or presence of acetylcholine. In intact ASM, ethanol produced incomplete relaxation (approximately 40%) at concentrations up to 300 mM. Ethanol significantly increased Ca2+ sensitivity both in the presence and the absence of muscarinic receptor stimulation. Although ethanol did not affect regulatory myosin light chain (rMLC) phosphorylation during stimulation with Ca2+ alone, it decreased rMLC phosphorylation by Ca2+ during muscarinic receptor stimulation. Ethanol, like volatile anesthetics, inhibits increases in rMLC phosphorylation produced by muscarinic receptor stimulation at constant [Ca2+]i. However, despite this inhibition, the net effect of ethanol is to increase Ca2+ sensitivity (defined as the force maintained for a given [Ca2+]i) by a mechanism that is independent of changes in rMLC phosphorylation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)767-774
Number of pages8
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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