Intracellular microelectrode recordings were made from smooth muscle cells in cross-sectional preparations of equine ileum, superfused in vitro. Membrane potential oscillations and spike potentials were recorded in all preparations, but recordings were made more readily from cells in the longitudinal muscle layer than from cells in the circular layer. The mean (se) resting membrane potential (RMP) of smooth muscle cells in the longitudinal muscle layer was -51.9 (1.2) mV, and the membrane potential oscillations in this layer had a mean amplitude of 4.8 (0.4) mV, a frequency of 9.0 (0.1) cycles per minute and a duration of 5.8 (0.2) seconds. The membrane potential oscillations were preserved in the presence of tetrodotoxin. A waxing and waning pattern of membrane potential oscillation activity was observed. Nifedipine abolished the spiking contractile activity of the smooth muscle, did not abolish the membrane potential oscillations but did alter their temporal characteristics.
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