Ex vivo method for assessing the mouse reproductive tract spontaneous motility and a matlab-based uterus motion tracking algorithm for data analysis

Kaley L. Liang, Julia O. Bursova, Frank Lam, Xingjuan Chen, Alexander G. Obukhov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Dysmenorrhea, or painful cramping, is the most common symptom associated with menses in females and its severity can hinder women's everyday lives. Here, we present an easy and inexpensive method that would be instrumental for testing new drugs decreasing uterine contractility. This method utilizes the unique ability of the entire mouse reproductive tract to exhibit spontaneous motility when maintained ex vivo in a Petri dish containing oxygenated Krebs buffer. This spontaneous motility resembles the wave-like myometrial activity of the human uterus, referred to as endometrial waves. To demonstrate the effectiveness of the method, we employed a well-known uterine relaxant drug, epinephrine. We demonstrate that the spontaneous motility of the entire mouse reproductive tract can be quickly and reversibly inhibited by 1 µM epinephrine in this Petri dish model. Documenting the changes of uterine motility can be easily done using an ordinary smart phone or a sophisticated digital camera. We developed a MATLAB-based algorithm allowing motion tracking to quantify spontaneous uterine motility changes by measuring the rate of uterine horn movements. A major advantage of this ex vivo approach is that the reproductive tract remains intact throughout the entire experiment, preserving all intrinsic intrauterine cellular interactions. The major limitation of this approach is that up to 10-20% of uteri may exhibit no spontaneous motility. Thus far, this is the first quantitative ex vivo method for assessing spontaneous uterine motility in a Petri dish model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere59848
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number151
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • Biology
  • Epinephrine
  • Ex vivo model
  • Issue 151
  • Mice
  • Reproductive tract
  • Spontaneous uterine motility
  • Uterus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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