Chronic Hypoxia Suppresses Pregnancy-Induced Upregulation of Large-Conductance Ca2+-Activated K+ Channel Activity in Uterine Arteries
Our previous study demonstrated that increased Ca2+-activated K+ (BKCa) channel activity played a key role in the normal adaptation of reduced myogenic tone of uterine arteries in pregnancy. The present study tested the hypothesis that chronic hypoxia during gestation inhibits pregnancy-induced upregulation of BKCa channel function in uterine arteries. Resistance-sized uterine arteries were isolated from nonpregnant and near-term pregnant sheep maintained at sea level (≈300 m) or exposed to high-altitude (3801 m) hypoxia for 110 days. Hypoxia during gestation significantly inhibited pregnancy-induced upregulation of BKCa channel activity and suppressed BKCa channel current density in pregnant uterine arteries. This was mediated by a selective downregulation of BKCa channel β1 subunit in the uterine arteries. In accordance, hypoxia abrogated the role of the BKCa channel in regulating pressure-induced myogenic tone of uterine arteries that was significantly elevated in pregnant animals acclimatized to chronic hypoxia. In addition, hypoxia abolished the steroid hormone-mediated increase in the β1 subunit and BKCa channel current density observed in nonpregnant uterine arteries. Although the activation of protein kinase C inhibited BKCa channel current density in pregnant uterine arteries of normoxic sheep, this effect was ablated in the hypoxic animals. The results demonstrate that selectively targeting BKCa channel β1 subunit plays a critical role in the maladaption of uteroplacental circulation caused by chronic hypoxia, which contributes to the increased incidence of preeclampsia and fetal intrauterine growth restriction associated with gestational hypoxia.
- Received March 28, 2012.
- Revision received April 18, 2012.
- Accepted May 6, 2012.
- © 2012 American Heart Association, Inc.