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Endocrine, structural, and functional changes in the uterus during premature labor

  • R.E. Garfield
    Correspondence
    Department of Neurosciences, McMaster University, 1200 Main Street West, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 3Z5
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  • C.P. Puri
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  • Author Footnotes
    † Dr. Arpad Istvan Csapo died suddenly on February 7, 1981. His ideas and contributions to our understanding of parturition will endure. Dr. Csapo was a Research Career Awardee of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (No. 4 K06 HD20169-16.)
    A.I. Csapo
    Footnotes
    † Dr. Arpad Istvan Csapo died suddenly on February 7, 1981. His ideas and contributions to our understanding of parturition will endure. Dr. Csapo was a Research Career Awardee of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (No. 4 K06 HD20169-16.)
    Search for articles by this author
  • Author Footnotes
    † Dr. Arpad Istvan Csapo died suddenly on February 7, 1981. His ideas and contributions to our understanding of parturition will endure. Dr. Csapo was a Research Career Awardee of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (No. 4 K06 HD20169-16.)
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      Rats which were subjected to ovariectomy on day 16 of pregnancy and were treated with 17β-estradiol underwent delivery prematurely at 0900±1.9 hours on the morning of day 18. All animals had in plasma and uterine tissue a precipitate and highly significant progesterone withdrawal and a corresponding significant increase in prostaglandin F and prostaglandin F metabolite. Progesterone replacement therapy given to a second group of castrated animals prevented progesterone withdrawal and premature labor, because the hormonal profile in plasma and uterine tissue of these animals was identical with that of the intact pregnant vehicle controls. Electron microscopy of longitudinal and circular myometrial layers showed a precipitate and highly significant increase in the number, size, and area of gap junctions in the uteri of the group undergoing premature delivery. In the uteri of the progesterone-treated and vehicle control groups (both intact pregnant), gap junctions were conspicuously scarce. Thus the extensive regulatory imbalance, provoked by progesterone withdrawal, induced a significant increase in myometrial gap junctions. This structural change established contacts between individual myometrial cells which could transform the multibillion cell community of the uterus into a syncytium, to generate low-resistance pathways to the flow of current and thus promote the propagation of trains of electrical discharges in support of labor.
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