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Muscle contraction

This figure shows smooth muscle contraction. The left panel shows the structure of relaxed muscle and the right panel shows contracted muscle cells.
The dense bodies and intermediate filaments are networked through the sarcoplasm, which cause the muscle fiber to contract.

Although smooth muscle contraction relies on the presence of Ca ++ ions, smooth muscle fibers have a much smaller diameter than skeletal muscle cells. T-tubules are not required to reach the interior of the cell and therefore not necessary to transmit an action potential deep into the fiber. Smooth muscle fibers have a limited calcium-storing SR but have calcium channels in the sarcolemma (similar to cardiac muscle fibers) that open during the action potential along the sarcolemma. The influx of extracellular Ca ++ ions, which diffuse into the sarcoplasm to reach the calmodulin, accounts for most of the Ca ++ that triggers contraction of a smooth muscle cell.

Muscle contraction continues until ATP-dependent calcium pumps actively transport Ca ++ ions back into the SR and out of the cell. However, a low concentration of calcium remains in the sarcoplasm to maintain muscle tone. This remaining calcium keeps the muscle slightly contracted, which is important in certain tracts and around blood vessels.

Because most smooth muscles must function for long periods without rest, their power output is relatively low, but contractions can continue without using large amounts of energy. Some smooth muscle can also maintain contractions even as Ca ++ is removed and myosin kinase is inactivated/dephosphorylated. This can happen as a subset of cross-bridges between myosin heads and actin, called latch-bridges    , keep the thick and thin filaments linked together for a prolonged period, and without the need for ATP. This allows for the maintaining of muscle “tone” in smooth muscle that lines arterioles and other visceral organs with very little energy expenditure.

Smooth muscle is not under voluntary control; thus, it is called involuntary muscle. The triggers for smooth muscle contraction include hormones, neural stimulation by the ANS, and local factors. In certain locations, such as the walls of visceral organs, stretching the muscle can trigger its contraction (the stretch-relaxation response).

Axons of neurons in the ANS do not form the highly organized NMJs with smooth muscle, as seen between motor neurons and skeletal muscle fibers. Instead, there is a series of neurotransmitter-filled bulges called varicosities as an axon courses through smooth muscle, loosely forming motor units ( [link] ). A varicosity    releases neurotransmitters into the synaptic cleft. Also, visceral muscle in the walls of the hollow organs (except the heart) contains pacesetter cells. A pacesetter cell    can spontaneously trigger action potentials and contractions in the muscle.

Motor units

In this figure, the left panel shows a neuron with vesicles containing neurotransmitters. The right panel shows a bundle of smooth muscle cells with neurons wound around them.
A series of axon-like swelling, called varicosities or “boutons,” from autonomic neurons form motor units through the smooth muscle.

Smooth muscle is organized in two ways: as single-unit smooth muscle, which is much more common; and as multiunit smooth muscle. The two types have different locations in the body and have different characteristics. Single-unit muscle has its muscle fibers joined by gap junctions so that the muscle contracts as a single unit. This type of smooth muscle is found in the walls of all visceral organs except the heart (which has cardiac muscle in its walls), and so it is commonly called visceral muscle    . Because the muscle fibers are not constrained by the organization and stretchability limits of sarcomeres, visceral smooth muscle has a stress-relaxation response    . This means that as the muscle of a hollow organ is stretched when it fills, the mechanical stress of the stretching will trigger contraction, but this is immediately followed by relaxation so that the organ does not empty its contents prematurely. This is important for hollow organs, such as the stomach or urinary bladder, which continuously expand as they fill. The smooth muscle around these organs also can maintain a muscle tone when the organ empties and shrinks, a feature that prevents “flabbiness” in the empty organ. In general, visceral smooth muscle produces slow, steady contractions that allow substances, such as food in the digestive tract, to move through the body.

Multiunit smooth muscle cells rarely possess gap junctions, and thus are not electrically coupled. As a result, contraction does not spread from one cell to the next, but is instead confined to the cell that was originally stimulated. Stimuli for multiunit smooth muscles come from autonomic nerves or hormones but not from stretching. This type of tissue is found around large blood vessels, in the respiratory airways, and in the eyes.

Hyperplasia in smooth muscle

Similar to skeletal and cardiac muscle cells, smooth muscle can undergo hypertrophy to increase in size. Unlike other muscle, smooth muscle can also divide to produce more cells, a process called hyperplasia    . This can most evidently be observed in the uterus at puberty, which responds to increased estrogen levels by producing more uterine smooth muscle fibers, and greatly increases the size of the myometrium.

Sections summary

Smooth muscle is found throughout the body around various organs and tracts. Smooth muscle cells have a single nucleus, and are spindle-shaped. Smooth muscle cells can undergo hyperplasia, mitotically dividing to produce new cells. The smooth cells are nonstriated, but their sarcoplasm is filled with actin and myosin, along with dense bodies in the sarcolemma to anchor the thin filaments and a network of intermediate filaments involved in pulling the sarcolemma toward the fiber’s middle, shortening it in the process. Ca ++ ions trigger contraction when they are released from SR and enter through opened voltage-gated calcium channels. Smooth muscle contraction is initiated when the Ca ++ binds to intracellular calmodulin, which then activates an enzyme called myosin kinase that phosphorylates myosin heads so they can form the cross-bridges with actin and then pull on the thin filaments. Smooth muscle can be stimulated by pacesetter cells, by the autonomic nervous system, by hormones, spontaneously, or by stretching. The fibers in some smooth muscle have latch-bridges, cross-bridges that cycle slowly without the need for ATP; these muscles can maintain low-level contractions for long periods. Single-unit smooth muscle tissue contains gap junctions to synchronize membrane depolarization and contractions so that the muscle contracts as a single unit. Single-unit smooth muscle in the walls of the viscera, called visceral muscle, has a stress-relaxation response that permits muscle to stretch, contract, and relax as the organ expands. Multiunit smooth muscle cells do not possess gap junctions, and contraction does not spread from one cell to the next.

Questions & Answers

why the heart is protected with that sac
Joshua Reply
To prevent collision with the lungs, lubricates the heart, protects the heart from infection in the event a peripheral organ is effected, and stabilizes the heart within the mediastinum.
Jeremiah
This app should be updated too much as there is very little information for some topics.I hope you will consider my information....
aman Reply
adenohypophysis is made up of what type of cells and what is the name of those cells?
Mannu Reply
whatpassesthroughmaleovale
armstrong Reply
motor root of the trigeminal nerve
Vandana
what is the nervous system about
Joshua
what passes through foramen ovale?
Farah Reply
what are the organelles of a cell
Amina Reply
muscular system
Vandana
nucleus ribosome Golgi body call membrane cytoplasm
Sabina
these are the cellular components that functions to provide energy,remove waste and cell division
Waziri
Organelles of the cell are: Mitochondria,Ribosome,golgi apparatus, nucleus, secretory granules, nuclear e t c
Khadijah
what are local hormones
Richard
Local hormones are hormones that effect the cell that released them or cells near the releasing cell and they do not circulate within the blood stream.
Jeremiah
the trachea bifurcated into how many branches on the right lung
barbie
three lobes
Richard
Explain the normal flow of blood.
Shikha
how can we maintain the internal living things
Choolwe Reply
how many seconds does a human will stop if you sneeze
Kharl Reply
idk
Erika
1 sec not specific
Jane
1_3seconds
Mannu
physiology of vision
Sudipta Reply
Can pure water become gel like?
ovie Reply
No
Abdulazeez
what is Homeostasis
Laura Reply
It is the ability of an organism to co ordinate it's internal environment so as to achieve balance in all areas
ovie
what is anatomy
Sandra Reply
what is physiology
Sandra
The study of how the body works
Joseph
the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of leaving organisms and their parts including all physical and chemical processes
Maria
the study of human body . phicically and chemically it's called anotomy physiology
Raj
the branch of biology dealing with the functions and activities of living organisms
Salman
which vein do we inject to give infusions
Belinda
it is the scientific study of the body structure
Choolwe
What Choolwe Muselitata said is the definition of anatomy
KWAKU
Physiology can also be described as the way in which a living organism or bodily part functions
KWAKU
Anotomy is the science which we humen body of structure and function know as the anotomy
Aman
study of the body funtion and structure
Kaoum
functional study of the body
Mosele
it is the study about the functions of body organs
Mannu
what are the vital sign procedure
jeniffer Reply
You start the TPR then BP after explaining the procedure to the patient and your requirements ready.
Dauda
which type of vein to you inject to give infusions?
Belinda
*do
Belinda
how long do u take radial pulse
Flavian Reply
1 minute
Mannu
You can take it for 15 seconds , the number you got you multiply wth 2
Likius
but in the aspect of the multiplying that isn't right
Sabina
radial pulse kya hai?
OM
?
OM
for more accurate values you must do the 1 minute
Jane
1 minute.
Andrew
60 seconds
Richard
1 minute
Kaoum
yes @sabina
Mannu
What is homeostasis
Winter Reply
Homeostasis is the state of relative stability of the body's environment
Laura
what are fluids
Laura
fluid is a substance that has no fixed shape and yield easily to external pressure
Laura
Difference between hemostasis and homeostasis
Abdulazeez
Hemostasis is blocking or stopping blood flow from a damaged blood vessel by coagulation of that vessel or obstructing it.
Jeremiah
Homeostasis is a balanced state. An equilibrium. The body does this by regulating itself by using hormones and neurotransmitters to keep chemicals balanced within the body.
Jeremiah
Examples of site of homeostasis
Abdulazeez
For example, to much calcium in the blood would stimulate the release of calcitonin from the thyroid gland. Calcitonin will decrease calcium levels by depositing it into the skeleton. This is known as bone deposition, a homeostatic mechanism. Parathyroid hormone is the opposite to calcitonin.
Jeremiah
There are a lot of homeostatic mechanisms in the body. Insulin and glucagon is another one. These two regulate glucose (sugar) levels in the blood. High glucose levels would cause insulin from the pancreas beta cells. Insulin lowers blood sugar. Glucagon increases blood sugar
Jeremiah

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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