Smooth muscle cells were enzymatically dispersed from vasa deferentia of adult male guinea pigs (250-400 g). These cells reassociated in vitro to form monolayers and small spherical reaggregates (0.05-0.3 mm in Diam). Within 48 h of being placed in culture, cells in both types of preparation began to contract spontaneously. The contractions were rhythmic and slow. Cells in the monolayers stopped contracting after approximately 1 wk in vitro, but the reaggregates continued to contract spontaneously for at least 3 wk. Electron microscopy of the reaggregates revealed the presence of thick and thin myofilaments. Overshooting action potentials were recorded in many of the cells penetrated (primarily in reaggregates), and were accompanied by visible contractions of the aggregate or monolayer. Quiescent cells could often be excited by intracellularly applied depolarizing and hyperpolarizing (anodal-break) current pulses. The resting potentials had a mean value of -58 +/- 2 mV. The action potentials were usually preceded by a spontaneous depolarization. The action potentials had slow rates of rise (1--4 V/s) which were unaffected by tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1 microgram/ml), a known blocker of fast Na+ -channels. Verapamil (1 microgram/ml) blocked the action potentials. The mean value of input resistance was 6.9 +/- 0.5 M omega (n = 12). These electrophysiological properties are similar to those of intact adult vas deferens smooth muscle cells. Thus, the cultured adult vas deferens smooth muscle cells retain their functional properties in vitro even after long periods.

This content is only available as a PDF.