OBJECTIVE: Our purpose was to investigate, first, whether there were changes in the abundance of prostacyclin synthase protein in intrauterine tissues of pregnant ewes in association with spontaneous term labor. Second, we examined the effect of either estradiol or progesterone, or both, on regulation of prostacyclin synthase protein abundance in uterine tissues using an ovariectomized nonpregnant sheep model. STUDY DESIGN: The abundance of prostacyclin synthase protein was quantified by Western blot analysis in the myometrium, endometrium, and placenta of pregnant ewes in spontaneous term labor (n = 6) and term control ewes not in labor (n = 6). The changes of prostacyclin synthase in the myometrium and endometrium of 20 ovariectomized nonpregnant sheep (n = 5 for each group) were evaluated after treatment with estradiol, progesterone, or both. RESULTS: Prostacyclin synthase protein was present in pregnant and nonpregnant sheep myometrium, endometrium, and placenta at a molecular weight of about 55 kd. At spontaneous term labor the level of prostacyclin synthase decreased in endometrium (P < .05), increased in myometrium (P < .05), and remained unchanged in placenta. Estradiol and progesterone had no effect on prostacyclin synthase protein abundance in nonpregnant ovine endometrium and myometrium. CONCLUSIONS: The decrease in prostacyclin synthase in pregnant sheep endometrium during labor may indicate paracrine interactions between the endometrium, the myometrium, fetal membranes, or a combination of these: The significant increase of prostacyclin synthase in pregnant sheep myometrium at spontaneous term labor may contribute to the increased uterine sensitivity to oxytocin or stimulate vasodilatation during labor to increase myometrial blood flow. Neither estradiol nor progesterone at the dosages studied changed prostacyclin synthase expression in the nonpregnant myometrium and endometrium. The molecular mechanism or mechanisms that differentially regulate prostacyclin synthase expression in pregnant uterine tissues merit further study.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynecology