Bitter tastants can induce relaxation in precontracted airway smooth muscle by activating big-conductance potassium channels (BKs) or by inactivating voltage-dependent L-type Ca2+ channels (VDLCCs). In this study, a new pathway for bitter tastant-induced relaxation was defined and investigated. We found nifedipine-insensitive and bitter tastant chloroquine-sensitive relaxation in epithelium-denuded mouse tracheal rings (TRs) precontracted with acetylcholine (ACH). In the presence of nifedipine (10 μM), ACH induced cytosolic Ca2+ elevation and cell shortening in single airway smooth muscle cells (ASMCs), and these changes were inhibited by chloroquine. In TRs, ACH triggered a transient contraction under Ca2+-free conditions, and, following a restoration of Ca2+, a strong contraction occurred, which was inhibited by chloroquine. Moreover, the ACH-activated whole-cell and single channel currents of non-selective cation channels (NSCCs) were blocked by chloroquine. Pyrazole 3 (Pyr3), an inhibitor of transient receptor potential C3 (TRPC3) channels, partially inhibited ACH-nduced contraction, intracellular Ca2+ elevation, and NSCC currents. These results demonstrate that NSCCs play a role in bitter tastant-induced relaxation in precontracted airway smooth muscle.
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