Experimental Pharmacology Laboratory, Department of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology, College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, U.P. Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Pashu Chikitsa Vigyan Vishwavidyalaya Evam Go-Anusandhan Sansthan (DUVASU), Mathura, 281001 (U.P.), India. [Email]
Adverse effects of mercury on female reproduction are reported; however, its effect on myogenic activity of uterus and mechanism thereof is obscure. Present study was undertaken to unravel the mechanistic pathways of mercuric chloride (HgCl2)-induced myometrial contraction in rats. Isometric tension in myometrial strips of rats following in vitro exposure to HgCl2 was recorded using data acquisition system-based physiograph. HgCl2 produced concentration-dependent (10 nM-100 μM) uterotonic effect which was significantly (p < 0.05) reduced in Ca2+-free solution and inhibited in the presence of nifedipine (1 μM), a L-type Ca2+ channel blocker, thus suggesting the importance of extracellular Ca2+ and its entry through L-type calcium channels in HgCl2-induced myometrial contractions in rats. Cumulative concentration-response curve of HgCl2 was significantly (p < 0.05) shifted towards right in the presence of Y-27632 (10 μM), a Rho-kinase inhibitor, suggesting the involvement of Ca2+-sensitization pathway in mediating HgCl2-induced myometrial contraction. HgCl2-induced myometrial contraction was also significantly (p < 0.05) inhibited in the presence of methoctramine or para-fluoro-hexahydro-siladifenidol, a selective M2 and M3 receptor antagonists, respectively, which evidently suggest that mercury also interacts with M2 and M3 muscarinic receptors to produce myometrial contractions. U-73122 and GF-109203X, the respective inhibitors of PLC and PKC-dependent pathways, downstream to the receptor activation, also significantly (p < 0.05) attenuated the uterotonic effect of HgCl2 on rat uterus. Taken together, present study evidently reveals that HgCl2 interacts with muscarinic receptors and activates calcium signaling cascades involving calcium channels, Rho-kinase, protein kinase-C, and phospholipase-C pathways to exert uterotonic effect in rats. Graphical Abstract Graphical abstract depicting the mechanism of mercury-induced myometrial contraction in rats. M receptor: Muscarinic receptor; PIP2: phospho-inositol bisphosphate; PLC: phospholipase-C; DAG: diacyl glycerol; IP3: inositol triphosphate; IP3R: inositol triphosphate receptor; PKC; protein kinase-C; MLCP: myosin light chain phosphatise; MYPT: myosin phosphatase; SR: sarco-endoplasmic reticulum.