Send to

Choose Destination
Peptides. 2002 Jan;23(1):167-83.

Sensory nerves and neuropeptides in uterine cervical ripening.

Author information

Department of Neurobiology and Pharmacology, Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine, Rootstown, OH 44272, USA.


At the time of parturition (fetal delivery) the uterine cervix must "ripen," becoming soft, pliable, and dilated to accommodate the fetus' delivery. The fundamental processes underlying cervical ripening remain poorly understood. Knowledge that abundant autonomic and sensory nerves supply the uterine cervix, that transection of afferent nerves supplying the cervix blocks parturition, and that some of the changes in the cervix resemble those seen in inflammatory reactions suggests nerves may have a role in the cervical ripening changes. The present study utilized immunohistochemistry, plasma extravasation, and solution hybridization-nuclease protection assay to elucidate the complement of primary afferent nerves and some receptors in the rat cervix during pregnancy, and to determine if they may have roles in the ripening process at term. This study revealed an abundance of nerves associated with the cervical vasculature and myometrial smooth muscle containing immunoreactivity for substance P, calcitonin gene-related peptide, secretoneurin, and nitric oxide synthase throughout pregnancy. Many of these are small unmyelinated capsaicin-sensitive C-fibers. Substance P- (NK1-) and calcitonin gene-related peptide receptors were apparent on uterine cervix vasculature from pregnant, parturient, and postpartum rats. NK1 receptor mRNA was maximal at 20 days of pregnancy. Plasma extravasation of i.v. administered Evans Blue or Monastral Blue was most pronounced at parturition (shortly after NK1 mRNA is maximal); this was similar to plasma extravasation evoked by i.v. administration of substance P or capsaicin-treatment. This study revealed new data about the nervous system of the rat uterine cervix and that these nerves and their transmitters could very well be part of a neurogenic inflammatory process involved in cervical ripening.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center