Venous Vasomotion

  • Dirk F. van HeldenEmail author
  • Mohammad S. Imtiaz
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1124)


Veins exhibit spontaneous contractile activity, a phenomenon generally termed vasomotion. This is mediated by spontaneous rhythmical contractions of mural cells (i.e. smooth muscle cells (SMCs) or pericytes) in the wall of the vessel. Vasomotion occurs through interconnected oscillators within and between mural cells, entraining their cycles. Pharmacological studies indicate that a key oscillator underlying vasomotion is the rhythmical calcium ion (Ca2+) release-refill cycle of Ca2+ stores. This occurs through opening of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R)- and/or ryanodine receptor (RyR)-operated Ca2+ release channels in the sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic (SR/ER) reticulum and refilling by the SR/ER reticulum Ca2+ATPase (SERCA). Released Ca2+ from stores near the plasma membrane diffuse through the cytosol to open Ca2+-activated chloride (Cl) channels, this generating inward current through an efflux of Cl. The resultant depolarisation leads to the opening of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels and possibly increased production of IP3, which through Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release (CICR) of IP3Rs and/or RyRs and IP3R-mediated Ca2+ release provide a means by which store oscillators entrain their activity. Intercellular entrainment normally involves current flow through gap junctions that interconnect mural cells and in many cases this is aided by additional connectivity through the endothelium. Once entrainment has occurred the substantial Ca2+ entry that results from the near-synchronous depolarisations leads to rhythmical contractions of the mural cells, this often leading to vessel constriction. The basis for venous/venular vasomotion has yet to be fully delineated but could improve both venous drainage and capillary/venular absorption of blood plasma-associated fluids.


Veins Smooth muscle Vasomotion Cellular rhythms Coupled oscillator-based entrainment Ca2+ stores Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptors Ryanodine receptors Cardiac muscle Pericytes 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Health and Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences and PharmacyUniversity of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringBradley UniversityPeoriaUSA

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