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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2007;612:34-48.

Relaxin physiology in the female reproductive tract during pregnancy.

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Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


The characteristic functions of relaxin are associated with female reproductive tract physiology. These include the regulation of biochemical processes involved in remodeling the extracellular matrix of the cervix and vagina during pregnancy and rupture of the fetal membranes at term. Such modifications enable the young to move unimpeded through the birth canal and prevent dystocia. However, relaxin's physiological actions are not limited to late gestation. New functions for this peptide hormone in implantation and placentation are also emerging. Relaxin promotes uterine and placental growth and influences vascular development and proliferation in the endometrium. This chapter provides an overview of the current literature on relaxin physiology in the uterus, cervix and vagina of pregnant females and the impact on fetal health. It also outlines the potential mechanisms of relaxin action, particularly in the cervical extracellular matrix and uterine endometrium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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