Myometrial constitutive nitric oxide synthase expression is increased during human pregnancy

J. E. Norman, A. J. Thompson, J. F. Telfer, A. Young, I. A. Greer, I. T. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Nitric oxide (NO), derived from L-arginine by the action of nitric oxide synthase (NOS), is a mediator of many diverse biological activities, including vasodilation, neurotransmission and inhibition of platelet adhesion. A role for NO in the maintenance of rat and rabbit pregnancy is supported by a variety of studies. A recent study in women demonstrated that myometrial inducible NOS (iNOS) expression was greater in the early third trimester than either the late third trimester or in the non-pregnant condition, suggesting that increased iNOS expression is involved in the maintenance of human pregnancy. Constitutive NOS (cNOS) expression was not determined. The aim of this study was to compare constitutive NOS (both eNOS and bNOS) expression in the human non-pregnant uterus, preterm pregnant uterus (25-34 weeks gestation) and term pregnant uterus (>37 weeks gestation) using immunohistochemistry and Western blotting. Preterm pregnant samples were taken from women with a variety of pathologies necessitating early delivery. We found that eNOS and bNOS protein concentrations were greater in the preterm pregnant myometrium than non-pregnant myometrium. eNOS, but not bNOS, protein concentration was lower in myometrial samples obtained at term compared with those obtained preterm. We conclude that the constitutive isoforms of NOS are also up-regulated in human pregnancy and may play a role in the maintenance of myometrial quiescence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-181
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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