Background: The adrenergic system and progesterone play major roles in the control of the uterine function. Our aims were to clarify the changes in function and expression of the α2-adrenergic receptor (AR) subtypes after progesterone pretreatment in late pregnancy. Methods: Sprague Dawley rats from pregnancy day 15 were treated with progesterone for 7 days. The myometrial expressions of the α2-AR subtypes were determined by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. In vitro contractions were stimulated with (-)-noradrenaline, and its effect was modified with the selective antagonists BRL 44408 (α2A), ARC 239 (α2B/C) and spiroxatrine (α2A). The accumulation of myometrial cAMP was also measured. The activated G-protein level was investigated via GTPγS binding assays. Results: Progesterone pretreatment decreased the contractile effect of (-)-noradrenaline through the α2-ARs. The most significant reduction was found through the α2B-ARs. The mRNA of all of the α2-AR subtypes was increased. Progesterone pretreatment increased the myometrial cAMP level in the presence of BRL 44408 (p < 0.001), spiroxatrine (p < 0.001) or the spiroxatrine + BRL 44408 combination (p < 0.05). Progesterone pretreatment increased the G-protein-activating effect of (-)-noradrenaline in the presence of the spiroxatrine + BRL 44408 combination. Conclusions: The expression of the α2-AR subtypes is progesterone-sensitive. It decreases the contractile response of (-)-noradrenaline through the α2B-AR subtype, blocks the function of α2A-AR subtype and alters the G protein coupling of these receptors, promoting a Gs-dependent pathway. A combination of α2C-AR agonists and α2B-AR antagonists with progesterone could be considered for the treatment or prevention of preterm birth.
- α-adrenergic receptor subtypes
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Reproductive Medicine
- Obstetrics and Gynaecology
- Developmental Biology