Vascular smooth muscle responsiveness in a hibernator: Effects of season and temperature

V. M. Miller, W. L. Miller, F. E. South

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10 Scopus citations


To determine the effects of season, acclimation state, and hibernation on the reactivity of vascular smooth muscle from a hibernant species, strips of thoracic aorta, renal and femoral arteries, and portal vein obtained from adult woodchucks, Marmota monax, were suspended for isometric tension measurements in physiological salt solution. These blood vessels exhibited no seasonal variation in resting tension, connective tissue content, or maximum tension developed to norepinephrine. However, the concentration-response curves to norepinephrine in both aortic and portal vein strips from animals tested in May and June were shifted to the left of those from animals tested in either August or November through February. This increased sensitivity to the catecholamine was seen also in renal vessels from hibernating compared with nonhibernating animals. Decreasing organ bath temperature from 37 to 28° C increased tension developed in response to norepinephrine in aortic and renal strips, whereas that of the femoral artery was unchanged. With further cooling to 17°C, the responses to norepinephrine in aortic and renal strips were similar to the responses at 37°C. The contraction developed to 40 mM KCl was diminished in all tissues at 28° C. Blockade of β-adrenergic receptors did not augment the response to norepinephrine at 37°C. Contractions of the woodchuck aorta in calcium-free medium were sustained longer than comparable tissue obtained from a rabbit. These data suggest that receptor-mediated processes are modulated in hibernating animals. This modulation varies among vascular beds and may act to maintain or divert perfusion of the tissue through entry, during, and arousal from hibernation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R77-R82
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1 (19/1)
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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