Changes in the expression of nitric oxide synthase in the human uterine cervix during pregnancy and parturition

M A Ledingham, A J Thomson, A Young, L M Macara, I A Greer, J E Norman

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Nitric oxide (NO) has been proposed as a mediator of cervical ripening. We investigated the expression, using Western blotting, and localization, using immunohistochemistry, of the nitric oxide synthase (NOS) enzymes, inducible NOS (iNOS), endothelial NOS (eNOS) and neuronal NOS (bNOS) in the human cervix during pregnancy and parturition. Cervical biopsies were obtained from non-pregnant women, women in the first trimester of pregnancy, and pregnant women at term before and after the onset of labour. Each of the NOS isoforms was localized in the cervices of both non-pregnant and pregnant subjects using immunohistochemistry. iNOS expression was significantly greater in early pregnancy compared with the non-pregnant state (P: < 0.005). iNOS expression was up-regulated further in samples obtained in the third trimester compared with the first trimester. bNOS expression was greater in samples from the first trimester of pregnancy than in non-pregnant samples (P: < 0. 005), but showed no additional increase in late pregnancy or with the onset of labour. eNOS expression was increased in samples obtained in the third trimester both before (P: = 0.002) and after the onset of labour (P: < 0.002) when compared with non-pregnant samples. The increased expression of NOS isoforms in late pregnancy supports the hypothesis that NO is involved in the process of cervical ripening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1041-8
Number of pages8
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2000


  • Blotting, Western
  • Cervix Uteri
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes
  • Labor, Obstetric
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Pregnancy


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