Pregnancy-induced changes in uterine artery function play a critical role in ensuring adequate placental perfusion. Responses of these vessels to pressure (myogenic responsiveness) may contribute to this. The overall myogenic properties of uterine arteries may depend upon the integration of a number of different factors, including effects of pre-constrictor stimuli, and should be considered in terms of both initial and stable diameters both of which may be modulated by pregnancy. This study thus investigated the effects of pre-constriction, the endothelium and pregnancy on responses of isolated rat uterine arteries to changes in intravascular pressure (IvP). The effects on both the immediate transient diameter changes and stable diameters (myogenic tone) were studied. Isolated 3rd order uterine arteries from non-pregnant and days 19-21 pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats were mounted on a pressure myograph and responses to changes in IvP (20-120 mm Hg) examined. Arteries did not exhibit active responses to pressure in the absence of stimulation, however, all showed active myogenic constriction when pre-constricted by depolarization (30 or 60mM KCl) or arginine vasopressin (AVP). Pregnancy enhanced stable levels of myogenic tone with AVP, but not depolarization. This difference was not dependent upon the endothelium. Initial peak diameters were enhanced in arteries from pregnant rats due to endothelium-dependent mechanisms. Thus, both the peak and stable response of isolated rat uterine arteries to pressure can be differentially regulated and thus must both be considered when considering the influence of pressure on uterine artery reactivity during pregnancy.
- Blood Pressure/physiology
- Cell Separation
- Endothelium, Vascular/physiology
- Muscle Contraction/physiology
- Rats, Sprague-Dawley
- Uterus/blood supply