Generation and Regulation of Spontaneous Contractions in the Prostate

  • Basu Chakrabarty
  • Sophie Lee
  • Betty ExintarisEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1124)


Spontaneous myogenic contractions have been shown to be significantly upregulated in prostate tissue collected from men with Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), an extremely common disorder of the ageing male. Although originally thought likely to be involved in ‘housekeeping’ functions, mixing prostatic secretions to prevent stagnation, these spontaneous myogenic contractions provide a novel opportunity to understand and treat BPH. This treatment potential differs from previous models, which focused exclusively on attenuating nerve-mediated neurogenic contractions. Previous studies in the rodent prostate have provided an insight into the mechanisms underlying the regulation of myogenic contractions. ‘Prostatic Interstitial Cells’ (PICs) within the prostate appear to generate pacemaker potentials, which arise from the summation of number of spontaneous transient depolarisations triggered by the spontaneous release of Ca2+ from internal stores and the opening of Ca2+-activated Cl channels. Pacemaker potentials then conduct into neighbouring smooth muscle cells to generate spontaneous slow waves. These slow waves trigger the firing of ‘spike-like’ action potentials, Ca2+ entry and contraction, which are not attenuated by blockers of neurotransmission. However, these spontaneous prostatic contractions can be modulated by the autonomic nervous system. Here, we discuss the mechanisms underlying rodent and human prostate myogenic contractions and the actions of existing and novel pharmacotherapies for the treatment of BPH. Understanding the generation of human prostatic smooth muscle tone will confirm the mechanism of action of existing drugs, inform the identification and effectiveness of new pharmacotherapies, as well as predict patient outcomes.


Prostate Slow wave activity Pacemaker activity Benign prostatic hyperplasia Spontaneous activity Prostatic interstitial cells 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Drug Discovery BiologyMonash Institute of Pharmaceutical ScienceMelbourneAustralia

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