Characterisation of K+ Channels in Human Fetoplacental Vascular Smooth Muscle Cells

Melissa F. Brereton, Mark Wareing, Rebecca L. Jones, Susan L. Greenwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adequate blood flow through placental chorionic plate resistance arteries (CPAs) is necessary for oxygen and nutrient transfer to the fetus and a successful pregnancy. In non-placental vascular smooth muscle cells (SMCs), K+ channels regulate contraction, vascular tone and blood flow. Previous studies showed that K+ channel modulators alter CPA tone, but did not distinguish between effects on K+ channels in endothelial cells and SMCs. In this study, we developed a preparation of freshly isolated CPASMCs of normal pregnancy and investigated K+ channel expression and function. CPASMCs were isolated from normal human term placentas using enzymatic digestion. Purity and phenotype was confirmed with immunocytochemistry. Whole-cell patch clamp was used to assess K+ channel currents, and mRNA and protein expression was determined in intact CPAs and isolated SMCs with RT-PCR and immunostaining. Isolated SMCs expressed α-actin but not CD31, a marker of endothelial cells. CPASMCs and intact CPAs expressed h-caldesmon and non-muscle myosin heavy chain-2; phenotypic markers of contractile and synthetic SMCs respectively. Whole-cell currents were inhibited by 4-AP, TEA, charybdotoxin and iberiotoxin implicating functional Kv and BKCa channels. 1-EBIO enhanced whole cell currents which were abolished by TRAM-34 and reduced by apamin indicating activation of IKCa and SKCa respectively. BKCa, IKCa and SKCa3 mRNA and/or protein were expressed in CPASMCs and intact CPAs. This study provides the first direct evidence for functional Kv, BKCa, IKCa and SKCa channels in CPASMCs. These cells display a mixed phenotype implicating a dual role for CPASMCs in controlling both fetoplacental vascular resistance and vasculogenesis. © 2013 Brereton et al.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57451
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2013


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