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Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology

Editor-in-Chief: Horowitz, Michal

Editorial Board: Das, Kusal K. / Epstein, Yoram / S. Gershon MD, Elliot / Kodesh , Einat / Kohen, Ron / Lichtstein, David / Maloyan, Alina / Mechoulam, Raphael / Roth, Joachim / Schneider, Suzanne / Shohami, Esther / Sohmer, Haim / Yoshikawa, Toshikazu / Tam, Joseph

CiteScore 2016: 1.01

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.349
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.495

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Volume 28, Issue 3


The effect of extracellular ATP on rat uterine contraction from different gestational stages and its possible mechanisms of action

Hind A. Zafrah
  • Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Khalid University, Abha, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Mohammed F. Alotaibi
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2925, Riyadh 11461, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2017-03-30 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2016-0118



The mechanisms underlying the onset of labor are not fully understood. Extracellular adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) is known to cause uterine contractions in different species but the exact underlying mechanisms are poorly investigated to date. The aims of this study were to investigate the effect of extracellular ATP on spontaneous uterine contractions from different gestational stages and to elucidate its possible underlying mechanisms.


Longitudinal uterine strips were obtained from rats in different gestational stages (nonpregnant, late-pregnant, and term-pregnant). The effects of 1 mM ATP were examined on uterine contractions generated spontaneously, depolarized by high-KCl (60 mM), induced by oxytocin (5 nM), in the presence of high external Ca2+, or in the absence of external Ca2+.


Application of 1 mM extracellular ATP significantly increased the force of spontaneous contraction in uterine strips obtained from all gestational stages with prominent increase in term-pregnant rats compared to other gestations. ATP significantly increased the force induced by depolarization (122%, p=0.010, n=6), oxytocin (129%, p=0.001, n=7), high-Ca2+ (145%, p=0.005, n=6) and it was able to cause transient contraction in the absence of external Ca2+ (33%, p<0.01).


Extracellular ATP is able to increase the force and frequency of uterine contractions and its effect increases with the progression of pregnancy and it involves Ca2+ influx and release. These findings open a new window for clinicians to consider ATP as a therapeutic target to control the uterine activity during difficult labors.

Keywords: ATP; contraction; oxytocin; term-pregnant; uterus


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About the article

Corresponding author: Mohammed F. Alotaibi, PhD, Department of Physiology, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 2925, Riyadh 11461, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Phone: +966 11 4672629, Fax: +966 11 4672567

Received: 2016-07-26

Accepted: 2017-02-09

Published Online: 2017-03-30

Published in Print: 2017-05-01

Author contributions: MA designed the research, HZ performed the experiments. MA and HZ analyzed the data. MA wrote the manuscript. MA and HZ revised and approved the final version. All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

Research funding: This study was funded by King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) (project number GSP-37-1123).

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.

Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

Citation Information: Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology, Volume 28, Issue 3, Pages 209–217, ISSN (Online) 2191-0286, ISSN (Print) 0792-6855, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jbcpp-2016-0118.

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