Investigation of the syncytial nature of detrusor smooth muscle as a determinant of action potential shape

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Shailesh Appukuttan
  • Mithun Padmakumar
  • John Young
  • Keith Brain
  • Rohit Manchanda

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Portsmouth


Unlike most excitable cells, certain syncytial smooth muscle cells are known to exhibit spontaneous action potentials of varying shapes and sizes. These differences in shape are observed even in electrophysiological recordings obtained from a single cell. The origin and physiological relevance of this phenomenon are currently unclear. The study presented here aims to test the hypothesis that the syncytial nature of the detrusor smooth muscle tissue contributes to the variations in the action potential profile by influencing the superposition of thepassive and active signals. Data extracted from experimental recordings have been compared with those obtained through simulations. The feature correlation studies on action potentials obtained from the experimental recordings suggest the underlying presence of passive signals, called spontaneous excitatory junction potentials (sEJPs). Through simulations, we are able to demonstrate that the syncytial organization of the cells, and the variable superposition of the sEJPs with the ‘native action potential’, contribute to the diversity in the action potential profilesexhibited. It could also be inferred that the fraction of the propagated action potentials is very low in the detrusor. It is proposed that objective measurements of spontaneous action potential profiles can lead to a better understanding of bladder physiology and pathology.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1300
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers in Physiology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2018


  • bladder, smooth muscle cells, Detrusor overactivity, Action potentials, Feature extraction, NEURON