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Nat Med. 1998 Apr;4(4):456-9.

Local paracrine effects of estradiol are central to parturition in the rhesus monkey.

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  • 1College of Veterinary Medicine, Dept. Physiology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853-6401, USA.


The central biochemical mechanisms involved in primate parturition are still unclear. Studies in both humans and nonhuman primates such as the baboon and rhesus monkey indicate that many factors play a part in the cascade of interactive positive feedforward loops that progressively promote parturition: changes in maternal endocrinology, a nocturnal switch in myometrial activity from low amplitude, infrequent contractures to high amplitude, high frequency contractions (see Fig. 1), dilation of the cervix and biochemical changes in the fetal membranes that lead to rupture. Here we demonstrate that infusion of the aromatase inhibitor 4-hydroxyandrostenedione (4OHA) inhibits conversion of androgen to estrogen and prevents premature delivery caused by administration of androgen to pregnant rhesus monkeys at 0.8 of pregnancy term. 4OHA also inhibited the androstenedione induced maternal endocrine and fetal membrane biochemical changes, and alteration of myometrial activity patterns. Secondly, peripheral estrogen infusions increased myometrial activity but did not produce preterm delivery or fetal membrane changes. We conclude that paracrine functions of estrogen at its site of production play critical and central roles in delivery in the non-human primate.

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