L-type Ca2+ channel currents were recorded from myocytes isolated from bovine pial and porcine coronary arteries to study the influence of changes in intracellular pH (pHi). Whole cell ICa fell when pHi was made more acidic by substituting HEPES/NaOH with CO2/bicarbonate buffer (pHo 7.4, 36 degrees C), and increased when pHi was made more alkaline by addition of 20 mM NH4Cl. Peak ICa was less pHi sensitive than late ICa (170 ms after depolarization to 0 mV). pHi-effects on single Ca2+ channel currents were studied with 110 mM BaCl2 as the charge carrier (22 degrees C, pHo 7.4). In cell-attached patches pHi was changed by extracellular NH4Cl or through the opened cell. In inside-out patches pHi was controlled through the bath. Independent of the method used the following results were obtained: (a) Single channel conductance (24 pS) and life time of the open state were not influenced by pHi (between pHi 6 and 8.4). (b) Alkaline pHi increased and acidic pHi reduced the channel availability (frequency of nonblank sweeps). (c) Alkaline pHi increased and acidic pHi reduced the frequency of late channel re-openings. The effects are discussed in terms of a deprotonation (protonation) of cytosolic binding sites that favor (prevent) the shift of the channels from a sleepy to an available state. Changes of bath pHo mimicked the pHi effects within 20 s, suggesting that protons can rapidly permeate through the surface membrane of vascular smooth muscle cells. The role of pHi in Ca2+ homeostases and vasotonus is discussed.

This content is only available as a PDF.