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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Canine mesenteric artery and vein convey no difference in the content of major contractile proteins

Ilia A Yamboliev1*, Sean M Ward2 and Violeta N Mutafova-Yambolieva2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV 89557-0046, USA

2 Department of Physiology and Cell Biology, University of Nevada School of Medicine, Reno, NV 89557-0046, USA

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BMC Physiology 2002, 2:17  doi:10.1186/1472-6793-2-17

Published: 25 November 2002



Mesenteric arteries and veins are composed of tonic smooth muscles and serve distinct functions in the peripheral circulation. However, the basis for the functional disparity of the resistive and capacitative parts of the mesenteric circulation is poorly understood. We studied potential differences in the expression levels of six contractile proteins in secondary and tertiary branches of the inferior mesenteric artery and vein along with differences in the vessel wall morphology.


Bright field and electron microscopy showed that both vessel walls had the same major structural elements. The arterial walls, however, had greater number, and more tightly assembled, smooth muscle cell layers compared to vein walls. The content of actin, myosin heavy chain, myosin light chain, and calponin was similar in the two blood vessels. The artery expressed higher amount of the actin-binding protein caldesmon than the vein (41.86 ± 2.33 and 30.13 ± 3.37 μg/mg respectively, n = 12). Although the total tropomyosin content was almost identical in both blood vessels, the alpha isoform dominated in the artery, while the beta isoform prevailed in the vein.


Canine mesenteric artery and vein differ in vessel wall morphology but do not convey differences in the expression levels of actin, myosin light chain, myosin heavy chain and calponin. The two vascular networks express distinct amounts of caldesmon and tropomyosin, which might contribute to the fine tuning of the contractile machinery in a manner consistent with the physiological functions of the two vascular networks.

mesenteric artery and vein; actin; myosin; caldesmon; tropomyosin