Background: Classical effects of oestrogen involve activation of target genes after binding nuclear receptors. Oestrogenic effects too rapid for DNA transcription (non-genomic) are known to occur. The effect of oestrogen on colonic motility is unknown despite the prevalence of gastrointestinal symptoms in pregnant and premenopausal women.
Methods: Histologically normal colon was obtained from proximal resection margins of colorectal carcinoma specimens. Circular smooth muscle strips were microdissected and suspended in organ baths under 1 g of tension. After equilibration, they were exposed to 17beta-oestradiol (n = 8) or bovine serum albumin (BSA)-conjugated 17beta-oestradiol (n = 8). Fulvestrant, an oestrogen receptor antagonist, was added to some baths (n = 8). Other strips were exposed to calphostin C or cycloheximide. Carbachol was added in increasing concentrations and contractile activity was recorded isometrically.
Results: Oestrogen inhibited colonic contractility (mean difference 19.7 per cent; n = 8, P < 0.001). In keeping with non-genomic, rapid-onset steroid action, the effect was apparent within minutes and reversible. It was observed with both 17beta-oestradiol and BSA-conjugated oestrogen, and was not altered by cycloheximide. Effects were inhibited by fulvestrant, suggesting receptor mediation.
Conclusion: Oestrogen decreases contractility in human colonic smooth muscle by a non-genomic mechanism involving cell membrane coupling.
Copyright 2009 British Journal of Surgery Society Ltd.