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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Oct;183(4):799-804.

Effects of thrombin on myometrial contractions in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.



A previous report from our laboratory demonstrated that thrombin stimulates myometrial contractions by activating the phosphatidylinositol signaling pathway in a dose-dependent fashion. The studies described in this report sought to determine whether thrombin and blood stimulate myometrial contractions both in vivo and in vitro and whether these uterotonic effects could be suppressed or prevented with thrombin inhibitors.


In vitro contraction studies were performed with proestrus and estrus rat myometrial tissue. In vivo contraction studies were performed with nonpregnant and timed-pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats.


Pretreatment of thrombin with hirudin suppressed the uterotonic effects of thrombin in vitro. Fresh whole blood stimulated myometrial contractions in a dose-dependent fashion in vitro, and thrombin inhibitors decreased the myometrial response seen with blood alone. Thrombin increased the frequency, intensity, and tone of myometrial contractions in vivo in a dose-related manner. In pregnant animals increasing doses of whole blood increased the frequency and tone of myometrial contractions. In both pregnant and nonpregnant animals whole blood significantly stimulated myometrial contractions, whereas heparinization of the blood significantly suppressed this in vivo uterotonic effect.


Thrombin is a potent uterotonic agent both in vitro and in vivo; furthermore, the uterotonic effects of blood appeared to be related to thrombin production during coagulation. These studies provide a possible mechanistic explanation for the observed increase in myometrial contractions in the presence of intrauterine bleeding and may also provide an insight into preterm labor associated with vaginal bleeding.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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