Relaxin contributes to the regulation of arterial pressure in adult female mice

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Relaxin is increasingly being recognized as a potent vasodilatory and antifibrotic hormone. Given that relaxin is present in the circulation during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle and during pregnancy, when arterial pressure is lowest in women, relaxin may contribute to the relative cardiovascular protection observed in premenopausal women as compared with age-matched men and postmenopausal women. In the present study, we investigated the contribution of relaxin to the normal regulation of arterial pressure in adult female and male mice and during pregnancy. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured via radiotelemetry in 14-week-old male and female wild-type (WT; C67BL/6xSv129) and relaxin knockout (KO) mice. Thereafter, female mice were time-mated with a (non-telemetered) male of the same genotype and MAP was measured throughout gestation. Basal MAP was ∼10 mmHg lower in WT females than males (P<0.05). Relaxin deficiency increased basal MAP in females (P<0.05 vs WT female), but not males. As expected, MAP decreased during gestation in WT mice. Conversely, in relaxin KO mice, arterial pressure increased during mid and late gestation (P<0.05 as compared with WT). Moreover, relaxin deficiency impaired gestational weight gain and reduced litter size. This is the first study to (i) demonstrate that relaxin contributes to the sexual dimorphism of arterial pressure in mice and (ii) document the changes in the arterial pressure profile of pregnant relaxin KO mice. Understanding the mechanisms that underlie the regulation of arterial pressure in premenopausal females may uncover new strategies to treat hypertension in women (non-pregnant and pregnant) and men.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2795-2805
Number of pages11
JournalClinical Science
Issue number23
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2017

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