Lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) is a prototype of the lysophospholipid mediator family and has multiple effects in the female reproductive system. Although several metabolic routes have been reported for intracellular formation of LPA, a unique route involving lysophospholipase D, an extracellular enzyme that produces LPA in blood and body fluids, is particularly intriguing for its agonistic role. In this study, using an assay with radioactive palmitoyl-lysophosphatidylcholine, we found that lysophospholipase D activity producing palmitoyl-LPA in human serum gradually increased during pregnancy. Elevated activity of lysophospholipase D was not caused by changes in levels of their precursors, lysophosphatidylcholines, in nonpregnant women or in pregnant women at different gestational periods. With increasing length of gestation, the elevated activity in pregnant women was found to produce increasing proportions of LPA with a palmitoyl group versus other LPAs. These results suggest that LPA formed by increased activity of lysophospholipase D in blood might participate in maintenance of pregnancy.
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