DOI: 10.1093/biolre/ioad174 ISSN: 0006-3363

BKCa channels are involved in spontaneous and LPS-stimulated uterine contraction in late gestation mice

Junjie Bao, Xiaofeng Ma, Lindsey N Kent, Monali Wakle-Prabagaran, Ronald McCarthy, Sarah K England
  • Cell Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Reproductive Medicine


The large-conductance, voltage-gated, calcium (Ca2+)-activated potassium channel (BKCa) is one of the most abundant potassium channels in the myometrium. Previous work conducted by our group has identified a link between inflammation, BKCa channels and excitability of myometrial smooth muscle cells. Here we investigate the role of BKCa channels in spontaneous and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated uterine contraction to gain a better understanding of the relationship between the BKCa channel and uterine contraction in basal and inflammatory states. Uteri of C57BL/6 J mice on gestational day 18.5 (GD18.5) were obtained and either fixed in formalin or used immediately for tension recording or isolation of primary myocytes for patch-clamp. Paraffin sections were used for immunofluorescenctdetection of BKCa and TLR4. For tension recordings, LPS was administered to determine its effect on uterine contractions. Paxilline, a BKCa inhibitor, was used to dissect the role of BKCa in uterine contraction in basal and inflammatory states. Finally, patch-clamp recordings were performed to investigate the relationship between LPS, the BKCa channel and membrane currents in mouse myometrial smooth muscle cells (mMSMCs). We confirmed expression of BKCa and TLR4 in the myometrium of GD18.5 mice and found that inhibiting BKCa channels with paxilline suppressed both spontaneous and LPS-stimulated uterine contractions. Furthermore, application of BKCa inhibitors (paxilline or iberiotoxin) after LPS inhibited BKCa channel activity in mMSMCs. Moreover, pretreatment with BKCainhibitor or the Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) inhibitor suppressed LPS-activated BKCa currents. Our study demonstrates that BKCa channels are involved in both basal and LPS-stimulated uterine contraction in pregnant mice.

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