Acetylcholine elicited a sustained contraction and an increase in potassium efflux in longitudinal muscle isolated from the guinea pig ileum. Stepwise increases in the calcium concentration of the bathing medium, from 0.06 to 36 mM generally reduced the increase in potassium efflux, but had a complex effect on the mechanical response. Contractions produced by high levels of acetylcholine became progressively larger or remained at a high magnitude as the calcium concentration was increased. Contractions produced by low levels of acetylcholine also improved initially, but were depressed again by the highest concentration of calcium introduced. Ethanol, in the appropriate concentration, inhibited completely the acetylcholine-induced contraction without reducing the increase in potassium efflux. Calcium reversed this effect. Both extracellular calcium and ethanol depressed the large, transient increase in muscle tone developed by fibers that were preincubated in a high calcium medium and then exposed to a calcium-free medium. These findings suggested that extracellular calcium ions react with two different sites in the membrane, a stabilizing site and a storage site. A muscle contraction is activated by calcium ions which diffuse from the storage site to the myoplasm. Calcium ions reacting with the stabilizing site impede this diffusion process. Part of the stimulatory effect of acetylcholine is derived from its capacity to counteract the action of calcium at the stabilizing site.

This content is only available as a PDF.