Novel Mechanisms in Ca2+ Homeostasis and Internal Store Refilling of Airway Smooth Muscle

  • Luke J. JanssenEmail author


Calcium is known to play a key role in excitation–contraction coupling of airway smooth muscle (ASM) and may also be important in other cellular responses, such as gene expression, migration, proliferation, and apoptosis. The sarcoplasmic reticulum acts as an agonist-releasable store of Ca2+ and as a sink to buffer changes in cytosolic [Ca2+]i. ASM also expresses, in great abundance, other Ca2+-mobilizing effectors such as voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (Cav) and sodium/calcium exchangers (NCX) on the plasmalemma, as well as ryanodine receptors (RyRs) on the SR membrane. These three had long been held to be important in mediating electromechanical coupling (Cav), extrusion of cytosolic Ca2+ (NCX) and Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release (RyR), respectively. However, more recent data and careful consideration have challenged those associations. In this chapter, we explore the novel hypothesis that all three contribute to refilling of the SR, perhaps orchestrated or powered by electrical slow waves (which are also found in ASM of all species studied to date).


Excitation–contraction coupling Ca2+ handling Airway smooth muscle 



Cytosolic concentrations of calcium


Airway smooth muscle


Voltage-dependent calcium channel


Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release




Myosin light chain


Myosin light chain kinase


Na+/Ca2+ exchange


Ryanodine receptor


Sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase


Sarcoplasmic reticulum


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Firestone Institute for Respiratory Health, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Department of MedicineMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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