Background. α-Methyldopa is a classic antihypertensive agent, used routinely in the treatment of pregnancy-induced hypertension. However, only a few data are available about its direct uterotropic effect. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to investigate the direct effects of α-methyldopa on the myometrial adrenergic functions in rat. Methods. The effects of α-methyldopa on the sympathetic transmission in the non-pregnant, early pregnant and late-pregnant myometrium were investigated by a superfusion technique. Myometrial samples from control and α-methyldopa- treated (200 mg/kg i.p. for 7 days) non-pregnant, 7-day and 21-day pregnant rats were saturated with [3H]noradrenaline, and the liberation evoked by electric field stimulation was determined. The contractility responses to α- and β-adrenergic stimulation were additionally characterised by generating concentration-response curves of myometrial rings to noradrenaline and terbutaline in the same arrangement. The changes in the density and affinity of the adrenergic receptors (α2 and β2) were investigated by a radioligand binding technique. Results. The treatment with α-methyldopa substantially decreased both the [3H]noradrenaline uptake and release in both the non-pregnant and early pregnant uterus, while treatment-dependent changes were observed at term only in the uptake capacity. The contractility response to exogenous α-sympathomimetics was higher in the group treated in early pregnancy, and a decreased terbutaline-induced relaxation was observed in the non-pregnant state and at term. The treatment resulted in increased affinity for α2 receptors in early pregnancy, while Kd for β2 was increased at term. Conclusions. Our experimental data suggest that besides its antihypertensive effect, α-methyldopa may influence the adrenergic transmission of the pregnant uterus. Our results indicate that the agent decreases the efficacy of β2-adrenergic agonists at term pregnancy and increases the response to α-sympathomimetics in early pregnancy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology