Effects of ajmaline on contraction patterns of isolated rat gastric antrum and portal vein smooth muscle strips and on neurogenic relaxations of gastric fundus.


Oscar-Langendorff-Institut für Physiologie, Universitätsmedizin Rostock, Gertrudenstraße 9, 18057, Rostock, Germany. [Email]


Class-I-antiarrhythmics like ajmaline are known to alter smooth muscle function, which may cause alterations in gastrointestinal motility. The effects of ajmaline on isolated gastric and portal vein smooth muscle and the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We studied the effects of ajmaline on the contractile patterns of isolated preparations of gastric antrum and portal vein from Wistar rats. The organ bath technique was used to measure spontaneous or pharmacologically induced isometric contractions. Changes in force observed after application of ajmaline or under control conditions are reported as % of the amplitude of an initial K+-induced contraction. Electric field stimulation was used to study neurogenic relaxations of gastric fundus smooth muscle. Ajmaline increased the amplitude of spontaneous contractions of muscle strips (portal vein: control 31.1 ± 15.2%, with 100 μM ajmaline 76.6 ± 32.3%, n = 9, p < 0.01; gastric antrum: control 9.5 ± 1.6%, with 100 μM ajmaline 63.9 ± 9.96%, n = 14, p < 0.01). The frequency of spontaneous activity was reduced in portal vein, but not in gastric antrum strips. The effects of ajmaline were not blocked by tetrodotoxin, L-nitroarginine methyl ester, or atropine. Ajmaline abolished coordinated neurogenic relaxations triggered by electric field stimulation and partly reversed the inhibition of GA spontaneous activity caused by the gap junction blocker carbenoxolone. Ajmaline enhances the amplitude of spontaneous contractions in rat gastric and portal vein smooth muscle. This effect may be accompanied, but not caused by an inhibition of enteric neurotransmission. Enhanced syncytial coupling as indicated by its ability to antagonize the effects of carbenoxolone is likely to underlie the enhancement of contractility.


Ajmaline,Class-I-antiarrhythmics,Enteric nervous system,Gastrointestinal motility,Smooth muscle,