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Am J Physiol. 1999 Mar;276(3):R913-21. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.1999.276.3.R913.

Cyclooxygenase-2 plays a significant role in regulating the tone of the fetal lamb ductus arteriosus.

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Cardiovascular Research Institute, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0544, USA.


Nonselective cyclooxygenase (COX) inhibitors are potent tocolytic agents but have adverse effects on the fetal ductus arteriosus. We hypothesized that COX-2 inhibitors may not affect the ductus if the predominant COX isoform is COX-1. To examine this hypothesis, we used ductus arteriosus obtained from late-gestation fetal lambs. In contrast to our hypothesis, fetal lamb ductus arteriosus expressed both COX-1- and COX-2-immunoreactive protein (by Western analysis). Although COX-1 was found in both endothelial and smooth muscle cells, COX-2 was found only in the endothelial cells lining the ductus lumen (by immunohistochemistry). The relative contribution of COX-1 and COX-2 to PGE2 synthesis was consistent with the immunohistochemical results: in the intact ductus, PGE2 formation was catalyzed by both COX-1 and COX-2 in equivalent proportions; in the endothelium-denuded ductus, COX-2 no longer played a significant role in PGE2 synthesis. NS-398, a selective inhibitor of COX-2, was 66% as effective as the selective COX-1 inhibitor valeryl salicylate and the nonselective COX inhibitor indomethacin in causing contraction of the ductus in vitro. At this time, caution should be used when recommending COX-2 inhibitors for use in pregnant women.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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