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Evidence that endogenous relaxin promotes growth of the vagina and uterus during pregnancy in gilts



Evidence that endogenous relaxin promotes growth of the vagina and uterus during pregnancy in gilts



Endocrinology 138(2): 560-565



Recently, it was demonstrated that endogenous relaxin promotes growth of the vagina during the second half of pregnancy in rats and that administration of porcine relaxin promotes growth of the uterus in nonpregnant or early pregnant gilts. This study examined the effects of circulating relaxin on growth of both the vagina and uterus during the last two thirds of the 114-day gestation period in gilts. Furthermore, this study employed an in vitro immunohistochemical localization technique to determine whether the vagina and uterus in pigs have specific relaxin-binding sites. Three groups of pregnant gilts were used: sham-ovariectomized controls (group C; n = 8), ovariectomized progesterone-treated (group OP; n = 6), and ovariectomized progesterone- plus relaxin-treated (group OPR; n = 7). Gilts were either sham ovariectomized or ovariectomized on day 40 of gestation. Hormone replacement therapy with progesterone (group OP), progesterone plus relaxin (group OPR), or hormone vehicles (group C) began on day 38 (progesterone) or day 40 (relaxin) and continued until day 110. On day 110, the vagina and uterus were collected, and wet weight, dry weight, and percent hydration were determined. Small pieces (2-3 cm3) of the vagina and uterus from groups C and OP were frozen and cryosectioned for the immunohistochemical localization of relaxin-binding sites. Relaxin promoted growth of both the vagina and uterus. The wet weights of both the vagina and uterus in relaxin-deficient gilts (group OP) were lower (P < 0.05) than those in controls (group C), and relaxin replacement therapy (group OPR) restored the wet weights of both tissues to values that did not differ from those in controls. The mean dry weights and percent hydrations in the vagina and uterus did not differ among treatments. Immunohistochemical localization studies in the vagina and uterus demonstrated that specific and saturable binding of relaxin was localized in the same cell types of both tissues, namely epithelial cells (luminal in vagina, and both luminal and glandular in uterus), smooth muscle cells (both circular and longitudinal in vagina, and myometrial in uterus), and cells associated with blood vessels. In conclusion, this study provides evidence that circulating relaxin promotes growth of both the vagina and uterus during pregnancy in the pig. Furthermore, this study provides evidence that both the vagina and uterus contain specific and saturable relaxin-binding sites in epithelial cells, smooth muscle cells, and cells associated with blood vessels. We conclude that these cells probably initiate relaxin's effects on the vagina and uterus of the pregnant pig.

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Accession: 002835969

Download citation: RISBibTeXText

PMID: 9002986

DOI: 10.1210/endo.138.2.4909


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