Myosalpinx Contractions Are Essential for Egg Transport Along the Oviduct and Are Disrupted in Reproductive Tract Diseases

  • Rose E. Dixon
  • Sung Jin Hwang
  • Bo Hyun Kim
  • Kenton M. Sanders
  • Sean M. WardEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1124)


Oviducts (also called fallopian tubes) are smooth muscle-lined tubular organs that at one end extend in a trumpet bell-like fashion to surround the ovary, and at the other connect to the uterus. Contractions of the oviduct smooth muscle (myosalpinx) and the wafting motion of the ciliated epithelium that lines these tubes facilitate bidirectional transport of gametes so that newly released ovum(s) are transported in one direction (pro-uterus) while spermatozoa are transported in the opposite direction (pro-ovary). These transport processes must be temporally coordinated so that the ovum and spermatozoa meet in the ampulla, the site of fertilization. Once fertilized, the early embryo begins another precisely timed journey towards the uterus for implantation. Myosalpinx contractions facilitate this journey too, while luminal secretions from secretory epithelial cells aid early embryo maturation.

The previous paradigm was that oviduct transport processes were primarily controlled by fluid currents generated by the incessant beat of the ciliated epithelium towards the uterus. More recently, video imaging and spatiotemporal mapping have suggested a novel paradigm in which ovum/embryo transport is highly dependent upon phasic and propulsive contractions of the myosalpinx. A specialized population of pacemaker cells, termed oviduct interstitial cells of Cajal (ICC-OVI), generate the electrical activity that drives these contractions. The ionic mechanisms underlying this pacemaker activity are dependent upon the calcium-activated chloride conductance, Ano1.

This chapter discusses the basis of oviduct pacemaker activity, its hormonal regulation, and the underlying mechanisms and repercussions when this activity becomes disrupted during inflammatory responses to bacterial infections, such as Chlamydia.


Oviduct Myosalpinx Ovum transport Fertilization Interstitial cells of Cajal Ano1 Chlamydia 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rose E. Dixon
    • 1
  • Sung Jin Hwang
    • 2
  • Bo Hyun Kim
    • 2
  • Kenton M. Sanders
    • 2
  • Sean M. Ward
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, School of Medicine, Tupper HallUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology and Cell BiologyUniversity of Nevada, Reno School of MedicineRenoUSA

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