The intracellular mechanisms of halothane action were examined in vascular smooth muscle from the aorta. Medial layers of the aorta from rabbits were mounted on photodiode tension transducers, stretched to 20 mg resting tension, and "skinned" with saponin. The skinned fiber preparations were then immersed in bathing solutions to study the effects of halothane (0.5-2%) on Ca2+ activation of the contractile proteins, and Ca2+ uptake and release from the sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) using caffeine-induced tension transients. For comparison, isolated intact aortic rings were mounted on Blinks' dual tissue bath and attached to force transducers. The preparations were contracted with either 40 mM KCI, or norepinephrine (NE) followed by acetylcholine (ACh)- or sodium nitroprusside (SNP)-induced relaxation. At steady state contraction or relaxation, the effects of halothane (1-3%) were studied. The steady state tension during halothane was expressed as a percentage of the steady state tension before administration of halothane. In the isolated intact aortic rings, halothane (1-3%) produced biphasic effects on KC1-induced tension, i.e., an initially slight increase followed by decreases, independent of endothelium. Halothane markedly increased tension in the ACh- or SNP-relaxed state. The effects were dose-dependent. In the skinned aortic strips, halothane slightly decreased maximum Ca2+-activated tension development of the contractile proteins. Halothane decreased Ca2+ accumulation in the SR and increased Ca2+ release from the SR in a dose-dependent manner. The halothane-induced increases in Ca2+ release from the SR were blocked by ryanodine, an SR Ca2+ release channel blocker. It is concluded that halothane directly causes vascular contraction or relaxation, depending on the condition, and that halothane's effects on the SR may play a role.
(C) 1989 American Society of Anesthesiologists, Inc.