Biphasic contractions have been obtained in guinea-pig papillary muscle by inducing partial depolarization in K+-rich solution (17 mM) containing 0.3 microM isoproterenol; whereas in guinea-pig atria, the same conditions led to monophasic contractions corresponding to the first component of contraction in papillary muscle. The relationships between the amplitude of the two components of the biphasic contraction and the resting membrane potential were sigmoidal curves. The first component of contraction was inactivated for membrane potentials less positive than those for the second component. In Na+-low solution (25 mM), biphasic contraction became monophasic subsequent to the loss of the second component, but tetraethylammonium unmasked the second component of contraction. The relationship between the amplitude of the first component of contraction and the logarithm of extracellular Ca2+ concentration was complex, whereas for the second component it was linear. When Ca2+ ions were replaced by Sr2+ ions, only the second component of contraction was observed. It is suggested that the first component of contraction may be triggered by a Ca2+ release from sarcoplasmic reticulum, induced by the fast inward Ca2+ current and (or) by the depolarization. The second component of contraction may be due to a direct activation of contractile proteins by Ca2+ entering the cell along with the slow inward Ca2+ current and diffusing through the sarcoplasm. These results do not exclude the existence of a third "tonic" component, which could possibly be mixed with the second component of contraction.
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