In a number of species (e.g., rats, guinea pigs, rabbits, and rhesus monkeys [13, 1, 49-52]), the blood pressure entering the placenta is quite low (8–15 mmHg under anesthetized conditions), highlighting the contribution of maternal vessels upstream of the spiral arteries, Lumacaftor in vitro particularly radial and arcuate arteries, to uterine vascular resistance. The increase in uterine artery diameter can also be modified by environmental conditions. For example, pregnant
guinea pigs exposed chronically to high altitude show only half the low-altitude rise in DNA synthesis, with the proliferative response of uterine artery vascular smooth muscle cells in vitro being blunted as well [68, 67]. Chronic hypoxia also Decitabine decreases uterine artery flow-mediated vasodilation in the guinea pig and eliminates the normal pregnancy-associated reduction in myogenic tone seen in ovine resistance-sized uterine vessels [43, 10]. Colorado women residing at high altitude only show about half the pregnancy-associated increase in uterine artery diameter and a lesser increase in uterine artery blood flow than seen in well-controlled
studies at low altitude, a difference that does not appear to reflect changes in downstream vessels insofar as the high-altitude women had normal, “low resistance” uterine artery waveforms . That the vascular changes are present before the marked pregnancy rise in uterine blood flow in the PAK6 guinea pig or the onset of reduced fetal growth in humans supports the likelihood that chronic hypoxia interferes with normal uterine artery remodeling during pregnancy. Such a causal role for hypoxia is further suggested by recent studies in resistance-sized ovine uterine vessels in which 48 hours of hypoxia (10.5% O2) ex vivo reproduced the inhibitory effects of chronic hypoxia on pregnancy-
(or steroid hormone-) associated reductions in myogenic tone . Although they are part of the same hemodynamic network, upstream changes (large artery) differ from those occurring in downstream (smaller/pre-placental) uterine vessels, a fact that is often overlooked. Their time course is distinctive insofar as the upstream changes in blood flow begin during the first few weeks of pregnancy well before placentation is complete (as reviewed above). In addition, changes in main uterine artery blood flow can occur in the absence of a placenta as demonstrated by a recent report from an abdominal pregnancy in which both uterine arteries displayed normal, “low resistance” waveforms despite the fact that only one was supplying the placenta (implanted on the pelvic wall) and the uterus was of pre-pregnancy size .