Intracellular pH (pHi) is a physiological parameter that is intimately linked to contractility, growth and proliferation of vascular smooth muscle (VSM). Regarding contractility, no general unifying concept of pHi regulation but a rather complex relation between pHi signals and vascular tone has been revealed so far. The modulation of vasotone by pHi depends on the type of blood vessel as well as on the pattern of regulatory input signals. In addition, changes in pHi have been recognized as an important cellular signal to determine the fate of cells in terms of proliferation or apoptosis. Cellular sensors for pHi include a variety of ion transport systems which control intracellular Ca2+ gradients and are likely to serve as a link between pHi and cell functions. Here we provide an overview on the potential targets and mechanisms that transduce pHi signals in VSM. The role of pHi-sensing signaling complexes and localized pHi signaling as the basis of diversity of pHi regulation of VSM function is discussed.

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