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Reprod Sci. 2011 Sep;18(9):824-31. doi: 10.1177/1933719111398499.

Chemoreflex activity increases prostaglandin endoperoxide synthase mRNA expression in the late-gestation fetal sheep brain.

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  • 1Department of Physiology and Functional Genomics, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, FL 32610, USA.


Fetal sheep defend blood pressure, blood volume, and blood gases using baro- and chemoreflexes that influence autonomic and neuroendocrine responses. The local generation of prostanoids within the fetal brain is also an important component in activating hormone responses to these stimuli, but the relationship between the reflexes and prostanoid biosynthesis is unclear. The present study was performed to test the hypothesis that the abundances of prostaglandin biosynthetic enzymes in the fetal brain are dependent upon the activity of the baro- and chemoreflex pathways. We subjected chronically catheterized fetal sheep in late gestation to a 10-minute period of brachiocephalic occlusion (BCO), a stimulus that provokes brisk cardiovascular and neuroendocrine responses. We compared the central nervous system abundance of prostaglandin endoperoxide synthases 1 and 2 (PGHS-1 and PGHS-2) after BCO to (1) fetal sheep that had been subjected to BCO after chronic sinoaortic denervation plus bilateral vagotomy and (2) fetal sheep in which the N-methyl d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, ketamine, had been administered prior to BCO. Abundances of messenger RNA (mRNA) for PGHS-1 and of mRNA and protein for PGHS-2 in fetal hippocampus were reduced significantly by either prior denervation or ketamine administration. Prostaglandin endoperoxide synthases 1 and 2 mRNA in pituitary were decreased and increased, respectively, by ketamine pretreatment. The results of this study are consistent with the conclusion that the expression of PGHS-1 and -2 in fetal hippocampus and pituitary are influenced by the baro- and/or chemoreflex pathways within the fetal brain in late gestation.

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