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INTRODUCTION: Potassium (K(+)) channels are key regulators of vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) excitability. In systemic small arteries, Kv7 channel expression/activity has been noted and a role in vascular tone regulation demonstrated. We aimed to demonstrate functional Kv7 channels in human fetoplacental small arteries. METHODS: Human placental chorionic plate arteries (CPAs) were obtained at term. CPA responses to Kv7 channel modulators was determined by wire myography. Presence of Kv7 channel mRNA (encoded by KCNQ1-5) and protein expression were assessed by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence, respectively. RESULTS: Kv7 channel blockade with linopirdine increased CPA basal tone and AVP-induced contraction. Pre-contracted CPAs (AVP; 80 mM K(+) depolarization solution) exhibited significant relaxation to flupirtine, retigabine, the acrylamide (S)-1, and (S) BMS-204352, differential activators of Kv7.1 - Kv7.5 channels. All CPAs assessed expressed KCNQ1 and KCNQ3-5 mRNA; KCNQ2 was expressed only in a subset of CPAs. Kv7 protein expression was confirmed in intact CPAs and isolated VSMCs. DISCUSSION: Kv7 channels are present and active in fetoplacental vessels, contributing to vascular tone regulation in normal pregnancy. Targeting these channels may represent a therapeutic intervention in pregnancies complicated by increased vascular resistance.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





638 - 644


Human, Placenta, Potassium channel, Arteries, Female, Humans, Indoles, KCNQ Potassium Channels, Muscle, Smooth, Vascular, Myocytes, Smooth Muscle, Placenta, Potassium Channel Blockers, Pregnancy, Pyridines, Vasodilation