FIGURE 8 Schematic of unitary (A) and multiunit (B) smooth muscle. Note the difference between the two types of muscle cells in innervation and contact.

tubule system seen in striated muscle. Thus, excitation of the cell membrane is not quickly transmitted to the interior of the cell. Although sarcolemmal excitation may not spread rapidly into the cell interior, the small size of smooth muscle cells may enable the events that lead to the increase in cytosolic free calcium necessary for adequate activation of the contractile mechanism. On the other hand, the lack of a well-developed T tubule system also may be part of the reason why smooth muscle contractions are rather slow in comparison with those seen in striated muscle.

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