The Journal of physiology

Response of the human detrusor to stretch is regulated by TREK-1, a two-pore-domain (K2P) mechano-gated potassium channel.

PMID 24801307


The mechanisms of mechanosensitivity underlying the response of the human bladder to stretch are poorly understood. Animal data suggest that stretch-activated two-pore-domain (K2P) K(+) channels play a critical role in bladder relaxation during the filling phase. The objective of this study was to characterize the expression and function of stretch-activated K2P channels in the human bladder and to clarify their physiological role in bladder mechanosensitivity. Gene and protein analysis of the K2P channels TREK-1, TREK-2 and TRAAK in the human bladder revealed that TREK-1 is the predominantly expressed member of the mechano-gated subfamily of K2P channels. Immunohistochemical labelling of bladder wall identified higher levels of expression of TREK-1 in detrusor smooth muscle cells in comparison to bladder mucosa. Functional characterization and biophysical properties of the predominantly expressed member of the K2P family, the TREK-1 channel, were evaluated by in vitro organ bath studies and the patch-clamp technique. Electrophysiological recordings from single smooth muscle cells confirmed direct activation of TREK-1 channels by mechanical stretch and negative pressure applied to the cell membrane. Inhibition of TREK-1 channels in the human detrusor significantly delayed relaxation of the stretched bladder smooth muscle strips and triggered small-amplitude spontaneous contractions. Application of negative pressure to cell-attached patches (-20 mmHg) caused a 19-fold increase in the open probability (NPo) of human TREK-1 channels. l-Methionine (1 mm), a specific TREK-1 inhibitor, dramatically decreased the NPo of TREK-1 channels from 0.045 ± 0.003 to 0.008 ± 0.001 (n = 8, P ≤ 0.01). Subsequent addition of arachidonic acid (10 μm), a channel opener, increased the open probability of methionine-inhibited unitary currents up to 0.43 ± 0.05 at 0 mV (n = 9, P ≤ 0.05). The results of our study provide direct evidence that the response of the human detrusor to mechanical stretch is regulated by activation of mechano-gated TREK-1 channels. Impaired mechanosensation and mechanotransduction associated with the changes in stretch-activated K2P channels may underlie myogenic bladder dysfunction in humans.