Animal studies have suggested that nitric oxide, a smooth muscle relaxant, is a fundamental mediator in the initiation of parturition. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that the onset of human labour is associated with a reduction in the activity of the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS), within the uterus. Samples of myometrium, placenta, decidua and fetal membranes were collected during Caesarean section from 11 women before and 11 women after the onset of labour at term. Immunocytochemistry was used to localize each of the three isoforms of NOS (endothelial NOS, brain NOS, and inducible NOS) in each of these tissues and the intensity of staining was qualitatively assessed. NOS enzyme activity was determined in homogenates of frozen myometrium, placenta and fetal membranes (with attached decidua), by measuring conversion of radio-labelled L-arginine to L-citrulline. Each of the three isoforms of NOS was localized in each of the tissues. We found no difference in either the expression or enzyme activity of NOS in myometrium, placenta or fetal membranes before and during labour at term. These results suggest that, in contrast to animal studies, a decrease in NOS enzyme activity may not be involved in the onset of parturition at term in the human.
|Number of pages||7|
|Publication status||Published - 1997|