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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1997 Apr;176(4):894-900.

Progesterone up-regulates vasodilator effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide in N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester-induced hypertension.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1062, USA.



We recently reported that calcitonin gene-related peptide can reverse the hypertension produced by N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester in pregnant rats. In the current study we investigated whether these vasodilator effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide were progesterone dependent.


Calcitonin gene-related peptide or N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester was infused through osmotic minipumps, either separately or in combination, to groups of five pregnant rats from day 17 of gestation until day 8 post partum or to nonpregnant ovariectomized rats for 8 days. Progesterone was injected during days 1 to 6 post partum and for 6 days after ovariectomy. Systolic blood pressure was measured daily.


Animals receiving N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester exhibited significant elevations of blood pressure during pregnancy and post partum. Coadministration of calcitonin gene-related peptide to these rats reversed the hypertension during pregnancy but not during the postpartum period. At the dose used in this study calcitonin gene-related peptide administered alone was without significant effects on blood pressure. However, it reduced both the mortality and growth restriction of the fetus associated with N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester in these animals. Calcitonin gene-related peptide reversed the hypertension in N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester-infused postpartum rats during the periods of progesterone treatment only, and these effects were lost when progesterone treatment was stopped. Neither progesterone nor calcitonin gene-related peptide alone were effective. To further confirm these observations, progesterone effects were tested in ovariectomized adult rats. Similar to the findings in postpartum rats, calcitonin gene-related peptide completely reversed the elevation in blood pressure in N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester-treated rats receiving progesterone injections. The effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide were apparent only during the progesterone treatment period, and these effects were lost when progesterone treatment was stopped. Again, at these doses calcitonin gene-related peptide and progesterone were each ineffective alone.


Calcitonin gene-related peptide reverses the N(G)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester-induced hypertension during pregnancy, when progesterone levels are elevated, but not post partum or in ovariectomized nonpregnant rats. The blood pressure-lowering effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide were restored in both postpartum and ovariectomized rats with progesterone treatment. Therefore we conclude that progesterone modulates vasodilator effects of calcitonin gene-related peptide in hypertensive rats.

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