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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2012 Jun 15;302(12):H2477-88. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00900.2011. Epub 2012 Apr 27.

Pregnancy reduces RhoA/Rho kinase and protein kinase C signaling pathways downstream of thromboxane receptor activation in the rat uterine artery.

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Department of Physiology, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, Georgia 30912, USA.


During pregnancy, reduced vascular responses to constrictors contribute to decreased uterine and total vascular resistance. Thromboxane A(2) (TxA(2)) is a potent vasoconstrictor that exerts its actions via diverse signaling pathways, and its biosynthesis increases in preeclampsia. In this study, we hypothesized that maternal vascular responses to TxA(2) will be attenuated via Rho kinase, PKC, p38 MAPK, and ERK1/2 signaling pathways. Isolated ring segments of uterine and small mesenteric arteries from late pregnant (19-21 days) and virgin rats were suspended in a myograph, and isometric force was measured. Pregnancy did not affect uterine and mesenteric artery responses to the TxA(2) analog U-46619 (10(-9)-10(-5) M), but transduction signals associated with these contractions were different between pregnant and nonpregnant rats. Inhibition of Rho kinase (10(-6) M Y-27632) reduced sensitivity to U-46619 in virgin uterine vessels but did not inhibit these contractions in pregnant uterine arteries and had no effect on mesenteric vessels. Treatment of arterial segments with a PKC inhibitor (10(-6) M bisindolylmaleimide I) reduced U-46619-induced contractions in virgin uterine and mesenteric arteries and in pregnant mesenteric arteries. Pregnant uterine arteries, however, were unresponsive to PKC inhibition. Inhibition of ERK1/2 (10(-5) M PD-98059) and p38 MAPK (10(-5) M SB-203580) reduced U46619-induced contractions in nonpregnant vessels and in pregnant uterine and mesenteric vessels. These data suggest that normal pregnancy does not affect uterine and mesenteric contractile responses to TxA(2) but reduces the contribution of Rho kinase and PKC signaling pathways to these contractions in the uterine vasculature. In contrast, the role of ERK1/2 and p38 MAPK in U-46619-induced uterine contractions remains unchanged with pregnancy. TxA(2)-associated transduction signals and its regulators might present potential targets for the development of new treatments for preeclampsia and other pregnancy-associated vascular diseases.

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