Calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) and its related peptide, adrenomedullin (AM), are potent smooth muscle relaxants in a variety of tissues. The CGRP has been reported to play an important role in maintaining uterine relaxation during pregnancy. We have previously reported that CGRP-induced uterine relaxation was gestationally regulated. Calcitonin receptor-like receptor (CRLR), a seven-domain transmembrane protein functions as CGRP-A receptor, in association with receptor activity-modifying protein (RAMP) 1, a single-domain transmembrane protein, whereas CRLR and RAMP2 or RAMP3 constitute a receptor for AM. In the present investigation, we examined the mRNA expression of CRLR, RAMP1, RAMP2, and RAMP3 in rat uterus (n = 8) by reverse transcriptional analysis and polymerase chain reaction to assess the changes in the expression of CGRP-A- and AM-receptor components during pregnancy and labor and by steroid hormone treatments in adult ovariectomized rats. The changes in mRNA are expressed relative to the 18S mRNA in the uterus of rats at various stages: nonpregnant, pregnant on Day 18, spontaneous labor at term, Day 2 postpartum, and in pregnant rats on treatment with RU486. Ovariectomized rats treated for 3 days twice daily s.c. with estradiol-17β (2.5 μg/injection), progesterone (2 mg/injection), and the combination of estradiol-17β and progesterone (same doses as above) were also examined for the expression of various receptor components. Results showed that mRNA expression of the receptor components was significantly higher (P < 0.001 for CRLR, P < 0.01 for RAMP1, P < 0.05 for RAMP2, and P < 0.01 for RAMP3) in pregnant compared to nonpregnant rats. Except for RAMP3, expression of all the other three genes decreased significantly (P < 0.05) during labor. A progesterone antagonist, RU486 significantly decreased (P < 0.01 for CRLR, P < 0.05 for RAMP1, RAMP2, and RAMP3) all the receptor components during pregnancy. In adult ovariectomized rats, progesterone caused significant increases in CRLR (P < 0.001), RAMP1 (P < 0.05), and RAMP2 (P < 0.01). Levels of RAMP3 were unaffected by the progesterone treatment. Estradiol-17β treatment decreased all of the four receptor components significantly (P < 0.01 for CRLR, P < 0.05 for RAMP1, RAMP2, and RAMP3). Our results demonstrate that both CGRP and AM may play a role in uterine quiescence during pregnancy and that their receptor components are regulated by the steroid hormones.
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