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Reproduction. 2008 May;135(5):705-12. doi: 10.1530/REP-08-0014. Epub 2008 Feb 27.

Relaxin (RLX) and estrogen affect estrogen receptor alpha, vascular endothelial growth factor, and RLX receptor expression in the neonatal porcine uterus and cervix.

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Department of Animal Sciences, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901, USA.


The porcine female reproductive tract undergoes estrogen receptor (ER) alpha-dependent development after birth (postnatal day=PND 0), the course of which can determine adult uterine function. Uterotrophic effects of relaxin (RLX) in the porcine neonate are age specific and may involve ER activation. Here, objectives were to determine effects of RLX and estrogen administered from birth on uterine and cervical growth and expression of ERalpha, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and the RLX receptor (RXFP1). On PND 0, gilts were treated with the antiestrogen ICI 182 780 (ICI) or vehicle alone and, 2 h later, were given estradiol-17beta (E) or porcine RLX for 2 days. Neither RLX nor E affected uterine wet weight or protein content on PND 2. However, RLX, but not E, increased cervical wet weight and protein content when compared with controls. Pretreatment with ICI did not inhibit RLX-stimulated cervical growth. Uterine and cervical ERalpha increased in response to RLX, but not E. Both RLX and E increased VEGF in the uterus and cervix on PND 2. Pretreatment with ICI increased VEGF in both tissues and increased RLX-induced cervical VEGF. In the uterus E, but not RLX, increased RXFP1 mRNA. In the cervix, E increased RXFP1 gene expression whereas RLX decreased it. Results indicate that the neonatal uterus and cervix are sensitive to E and RLX and that growth responses to RLX in these tissues differ by PND 2. Effects of RLX on uterine and cervical ERalpha and VEGF expression may be important for neonatal reproductive tract development.

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