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Does nitric oxide contribute to the basal vasodilation of pregnancy in conscious rabbits?

, : Does nitric oxide contribute to the basal vasodilation of pregnancy in conscious rabbits?. American Journal of Physiology. Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology 281(5): R1624-R1632

Pregnancy produces marked systemic vasodilation, but the mechanism is unknown. Experiments were performed in conscious rabbits to test the hypotheses that increased nitric oxide (NO) production contributes to the increased vascular conductance, but that the contribution varies among vascular beds. Rabbits were instrumented with aortic and vena caval catheters and ultrasonic flow probes implanted around the ascending aorta, superior mesenteric artery, terminal aorta, and/or a femoral artery. Hemodynamic responses to intravenous injection of Nq-nitro-L-arginine (L-NA; 20 mg/kg or increasing doses of 2, 5, 10, 15, and 20 mg/kg) were determined in rabbits first before pregnancy (NP) and then at the end of gestation (P). L-NA produced similar increases in arterial pressure between groups, but the following responses were larger (P < 0.05) when the rabbits were pregnant: 1) decreases in total peripheral conductance [-3.7 [plus or minus] 0.3 (NP), -5.0 [plus or minus] 0.5 (P) ml min-1 mmHg-1], 2) decreases in mesenteric conductance [-0.47 [plus or minus] 0.05 (NP), -0.63 [plus or minus] 0.07 (P) ml min-1 mmHg-1], 3) decreases in terminal aortic conductance [-0.43 [plus or minus] 0.05 (NP), -0.95 [plus or minus] 0.19 ml min-1 mmHg-1 (P)], and 4) decreases in heart rate [-41 [plus or minus] 4 (NP), -62 [plus or minus] 5 beats/min (P)]. Nevertheless, total peripheral and terminal aortic conductances remained elevated in the pregnant rabbits (P < 0.05) after L-NA. Furthermore, decreases in cardiac output and femoral conductance were not different between the reproductive states. We conclude that the contribution of NO to vascular tone increases during pregnancy, but only in some vascular beds. Moreover, the data support a role for NO in the pregnancy-induced increase in basal heart rate. Finally, unknown factors in addition to NO must also underlie the basal vasodilation observed during pregnancy. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.


PMID: 11641135

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