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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2000 Oct;279(4):R1478-85.

Gastrointestinal motility during pregnancy: role of nitrergic component of NANC nerves.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095-1740, USA.


This study evaluated whether increased release of nitric oxide (NO) from the nitrergic component of the nonadrenergic, noncholinergic (NANC) nerves may be partly responsible for the decrease in gastrointestinal motility observed during pregnancy. Segments of fundal strip, ileum, and colon were obtained from nonpregnant rats, rats in midpregnancy (days 9-11), and rats in late pregnancy (days 18-20). NANC activity was studied by assessing changes in tone after application of electric field stimulation (EFS). The role of NO was determined by observing the effects of EFS in the presence and absence of the NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and the reversibility of the effects of L-NAME by L-arginine. The magnitude of change in cGMP levels in the tissues after application of EFS was also assessed. Our studies indicate that there was increased magnitude of relaxation of isolated strips of rat gastric fundus and rat colon, after application of EFS to tissues obtained only from animals in late pregnancy. These results paralleled the changes in cGMP levels in tissues. NOS activity in the gastric fundus was significantly increased in animals in late pregnancy compared with nonpregnant controls. Our studies suggest that the delay in gastric emptying and increase in colonic transit time observed in rats during pregnancy may be caused in part by increased activity of the nitrergic component of the NANC nerves innervating these organs.

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