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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1988 Nov;159(5):1273-9.

Morphologic and electrophysiologic characterization of isolated pregnant human myometrial cells.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Duke Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.


Myometrium was obtained from pregnant volunteers by biopsy of the upper margin of the uterine incision at the time of cesarean section. A multistep enzymatic digestion with collagenase, trypsin, protease, and deoxyribonuclease yielded viable cells capable of contraction. Primary monolayer culture was carried out in the presence of human pregnant serum. Electron microscopic examination of freshly isolated and cultured cells revealed an ultrastructure indicative of smooth muscle cells. Intracellular microelectrode studies were performed on freshly isolated cells. Passive membrane properties were: resting membrane potential, -49.4 mV; specific membrane resistance, 6.06 kohms-cm2; specific membrane capacitance, 1.57 microfarad per square centimeter. Outward-going rectification was observed in response to depolarizing current pulses. Regenerative action potentials were not observed; however, transient voltage responses were elicited after depolarizing, but not hyperpolarizing, current pulses. These studies characterize a human tissue preparation that is applicable to electrophysiologic investigation of the control of uterine function.

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