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Biol Reprod. 2004 Jan;70(1):184-90. Epub 2003 Oct 1.

Role of capsaicin-sensitive nerve fibers in uterine contractility in the rat.

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Department of Pharmacodynamics and Biopharmacy, University of Szeged, Eötvös u. 6., Hungary.


The possible participation of capsaicin-sensitive sensory nerves in the modulation of neurogenic contractions was studied in nonpregnant and term pregnant rat uteri. Neurogenic contractions were elicited by electric field stimulation (40 V, 1-70 Hz, 0.6 msec) in intact uteri and uteri that were previously exposed to capsaicin in vitro. In capsaicin pretreated preparations obtained both from nonpregnant and term pregnant rats, a dose-dependent increase in the amplitude of uterine contractions was detected. Prior systemic treatment of the rats with capsaicin (130 mg/kg, s.c.) abolished the effect of in vitro capsaicin administration on the amplitude of neurogenic contractions. Use of a specific antagonist of calcitonin gene-related peptide revealed that depletion of this peptide, which normally elicits uterine smooth muscle relaxation, may be responsible for the increased responsiveness of the uterus to low-frequency stimulation. Experiments on the localization of calcitonin gene-related peptide in uterine tissue specimens exposed to capsaicin revealed dose-dependent depletion of calcitonin-gene related peptide-immunoreactive nerves innervating blood vessels and the myometrium. The findings indicate that capsaicin-sensitive afferent nerves, by the release of sensory neuropeptides, significantly contribute to the modulation of uterine contractility both in nonpregnant and term pregnant rats. It is suggested that uterine sensory nerve activation may be part of a trigger mechanism leading to preterm contractions evoked by, for example, inflammation.

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