The electrical activities of myometrial cells of the pregnant rabbit uterus have been studied by means of sucrose-gap and intracellular micro-electrode recording techniques. The resting potential of the myometrial cell was about -50 mv, and it is unaffected by the duration of pregnancy or placental attachment. Action potentials of the myometrium, although dependent on external Na+, were not always of the regenerative type; preparations from nonparturient uteri often produce mainly small spikes. The mean spike amplitude was 35 mv, rising at a mean maximum rate of 3 v/sec. Oxytocin, in concentrations less than 500 µU/ml, increased the mean spike amplitude to 48 mv and the mean maximum rate of rise to 7 v/sec, without affecting the resting potential. The relation between membrane potential and dV/dt of the spike was steepened by oxytocin, suggesting that oxytocin increased the number of normally sparse sodium gates in the myometrial membrane. By this action, oxytocin is believed to increase the probability of successful regenerative spikes and thereby initiate electrical activity in quiescent preparations, increase the frequency of burst discharges, the number of spikes in each burst, and the amplitude of spikes in individual cells.

This content is only available as a PDF.