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Effect of oxytocin on spontaneous electrical and mechanical activities in pregnant human myometrium

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      Abstract

      Spontaneous intracellular electrical activity and contraction of pregnant human myometrium were recorded by the single sucrose-gap method, and the effects of oxytocin on the muscle were studied. In pregnant human myometrium at term, both plateau and spike types of action potentials were observed. All contractions were well synchronized with each action potential. Oxytocin, 10−2 U/ml, potentiated spontaneous contractions by enhancing the plateau part of action potentials; spike-type configuration became plateau. When extracellular ionized calcium was removed, spontaneous activities disappeared, while 10−2 U/ml of oxytocin could evoke action potentials and contractions but these were smaller than those of the controls. Spontaneous activities also disappeared when ionized calcium was increased to 5 mmol/L, but oxytocin evoked plateau potentials and contractions remarkably. Diltiazem (ionized calcium antagonist), 10−6 gm/ml, suppressed the spontaneous activity, but oxytocin evoked action potentials and contractions in high frequency, the duration of the action potential being short and the contraction being small. In the presence of 10−4 gm/ml of diltiazem, 10−2 U/ml of oxytocin could not evoke any action potentials but did evoke small and long contractures, while in a high ionized potassium contracture experiment, oxytocin potentiated the tonic phase. These results suggest that oxytocin can increase spontaneous contractions by enhancing plateau potentials and that this effect requires sufficient extracellular ionized calcium. In this potentiation, the effects on frequency and amplitude of contractions might vary. It is also suggested that oxytocin may evoke a contracture in the absence of an action potential by releasing calcium from intracellular storage sites.

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