Uterine arteries play a major role in regulating uteroplacental blood flow. Failure to maintain blood flow to the uteroplacental compartment during pregnancy often results in intrauterine growth retardation. Immunohistochemical staining of adrenomedullin (AM), an endogenous vasoactive peptide, in uterine artery was intense in pregnant compared to nonpregnant rats, but it is not known whether AM directly relaxes uterine artery or not. In this study, we elucidated the mechanisms of uterine artery relaxation by AM and its regulation by pregnancy and female sex steroids. AM was able to relax uterine artery, and this relaxation was influenced positively by pregnancy and estradiol as evidenced by the increased pD2 and Emax values of AM. Both pregnancy and estradiol treatment to ovariectomized rats amplified RAMP3 expression in uterine arteries while progesterone had no effect. AM-induced uterine artery relaxation is predominantly endothelium-dependent. The AM receptor antagonist CGRP8-37 is more potent than AM22-52 in inhibiting the AM relaxation, indicating the involvement of AM2 receptor subtype. Moreover, AM uses the classical nitric oxide-cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway along with KCa channels to mediate the vasodilatory effect in uterine artery. In conclusion, sensitivity of uterine artery to AM-induced relaxation is increased with pregnancy or estradiol treatment by increasing RAMP3 expression, suggesting an important role for AM in regulating the uterine hemodynamics, probably maintaining uterine blood flow during pregnancy and in pre- and postmenopausal cardiovascular adaptation differences.
ASJC Scopus subject areas