• human detrusor;
  • Ca2+ channels;
  • membrane potential;
  • spontaneous depolarization


To characterize the Ca2+ channels in human detrusor smooth muscle and to investigate their contribution to spontaneous electrical activity.


Isolated human detrusor smooth muscle myocytes were used to measure ionic currents under voltage-clamp or membrane potential under current-clamp. Membrane potential oscillations were analysed in terms of oscillation frequency and amplitude using fast Fourier transforms.


Under voltage-clamp an inward current dependent on extracellular Ca2+ was recorded using Cs+-filled patch electrodes. The current could be separated into two components on the basis of their sensitivity to Ni2+, verapamil or nicardipine, and their dependence on holding and clamp potential. A Ni2+-sensitive component activated over a relatively negative range of potentials (−60 to −20 mV) comprised about a third of the total current and was designated a T-type Ca2+ current. A verapamil/nicardipine-sensitive component, activated at more positive potentials, was designated an l-type Ca2+ current. Using K+-based filling solutions spontaneous transient outward currents were recorded that had the characteristics of current flow through BK channels. Membrane potential oscillations, under current-clamp increased in frequency but not amplitude as the mean membrane potential was made less negative. The voltage-dependence of oscillation frequency was similar to that of the l-type, but not T-type, Ca2+ current activation curve. Furthermore oscillation frequency was slowed by verapamil but not Ni2+.


The study showed, for the first time, the presence of both T- and L-type Ca2+ channels in human detrusor smooth muscle; we propose a role for these channels in spontaneous activity. The results suggest that the L-type Ca2+ current can control membrane potential oscillation frequency. The significance of this finding for spontaneous contractions is discussed.