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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 May 31;102(22):8048-53. Epub 2005 May 23.

Epidermal growth factor prevents prepartum luteolysis in the rat.

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  • 1Laboratory of Physiopathology of Pregnancy and Labor, Center for Pharmacological and Botanical Studies, School of Medicine Paraquay 2155, Buenos Aires CP(1121), Argentina.


We have previously reported that intrauterine (i/u) administration of epidermal growth factor (EGF 500 ng) on day (d) 21 of pregnancy delayed 19.0 +/- 0.6 h the onset of labor. Progesterone (P) is secreted by ovarian corpora lutea (CL) throughout gestation in the rat. Prepartum CL regression due to increased uterine cyclooxygenase I and prostaglandin F(2alpha) results in P withdrawal followed by labor. The aims of the present work were (i) to study whether EGF delayed-onset of labor was mediated by a mechanism that prevented CL regression; (ii) to determine amniotic fluid (AF) EGF in pregnant rats. Rats on d21 of pregnancy received i/u EGF (500 ng) and were killed 0, 4, 8, 12, 24, and 48 h later. Control AF from rats on d13 and 18-22 of pregnancy was obtained. EGF decreased uterine prostaglandin F(2alpha) synthesis 8 h after treatment. Twelve hours after EGF injection, P reached its highest serum level and uterine cyclooxygenase I expression was undetectable. CL from rats killed 8 and 12 h after EGF were similar to those from rats on d13 of pregnancy, when serum P is maximum. EGF in AF increased throughout gestation, reached a maximum on d21, and decreased before the onset of labor. We suggest that the effect of EGF on the onset of labor was mediated by an early effect on the uterus that prevented prepartum CL regression.

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