Progesterone withdrawal, and not increased circulating relaxin, mediates the decrease in myometrial relaxin receptor (RXFP1) expression in late gestation in rats

Lenka A. Vodstrcil, Oksana Shynlova, Kerryn Westcott, Rhianna C. Laker, Emma Simpson, Mary E Wlodek, Laura J Parry

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In pregnant rats, a significant decrease in myometrial relaxin family peptide receptor 1 (RXFP1) expression, indicative of a functional relaxin withdrawal for activation of myometrial contractions, occurs in late gestation and during spontaneous labor. This coincides with the highest level of circulating relaxin and a decrease in progesterone. We investigated the potential regulatory role of these two systemic factors on myometrial RXFP1 expression by examining the effects of the antiprogestin RU486 and a monoclonal antibody against rat relaxin (MCA1) in pregnant rats. Rats were injected with RU486 on Gestational Day (GD) 7, 16, or 19 and were killed on GD 8, 17, or 20. RU486 caused a significant reduction in myometrial RXFP1. Plasma progesterone and 17beta-estradiol levels were increased in RU486-treated animals compared with controls. RU486 treatment also caused significant increases in myometrial Esr1 and Vegf and a decrease in Esr2. MCA1 was administered i.v. to rats from GD 17 to GD 19. On GD 20, no significant effect of MCA1 treatment on myometrial RXFP1 expression was observed compared with controls. Furthermore, there was no change in Esr1 or Esr2. A significant reduction in myometrial Vegf, however, was observed. We suggest that blocking progesterone action with RU486 increases plasma 17beta-estradiol and myometrial Esr1 and results in decreased RXFP1 expression. In summary, myometrial RXFP1 expression is mediated mainly by progesterone and not circulating relaxin in pregnant rats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)825-832
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Estrogen
  • Myometrium
  • Pregnancy
  • Progesterone
  • Relaxin
  • RU486
  • RXFP1

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