The paradox of smooth muscle physiology

David A. Woodrum, Colleen M. Brophy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Vascular smooth muscle tone is controlled by a balance between the cellular signaling pathways that mediate the generation of force (contraction) and the release of force (relaxation). The signaling events that activate contraction include Ca2+-dependent myosin light chain phosphorylation. The signaling events that mediate relaxation include the removal of a contractile agonist (passive relaxation) and activation of cyclic nucleotide-dependent signaling pathways in the continued presence of a contractile agonist (active relaxation). The major questions that remain in contractile physiology include (1) how is tonic force maintained when intracellular Ca2+ levels and myosin light chain phosphorylation have returned to basal levels; and (2) what is the mechanism of cyclic nucleotide-dependent relaxation? This review focuses on these specific controversies surrounding the molecular mechanisms of contraction and relaxation of vascular smooth muscle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Endocrinology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - May 25 2001


  • Contraction
  • Heat-shock protein (HSP)
  • Relaxation
  • cAMP
  • cGMP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


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