Evidence continues to implicate reduced placental perfusion as the cause of preeclampsia, initiating a sequence of events leading to altered vascular function and hypertension. The present study was designed to determine the influence of reduced uteroplacental perfusion pressure (RUPP) on the responsiveness of uterine arcuate resistance arteries. A condition of RUPP was surgically induced in pregnant Sprague-Dawley rats on Gestational Day 14. On Gestational Day 20, uterine arcuate arteries were mounted on a small-vessel wire myograph and challenged with incremental concentrations of vasoconstrictors and vasorelaxants for measurement of isometric tension. Compared to the sham-operated controls, uterine arteries from the RUPP group demonstrated an increased maximal tension in response to phenylephrine (P < 0.01); potassium chloride at 30 mM (P < 0.05), 60 mM (P < 0.01), and 120 mM (P < 0.01); and angiotensin II (P < 0.05). In arteries from the RUPP and sham-operated control groups, endothelium-dependent relaxation in response to acetylcholine (P < 0.05) and calcium ionophore (A23187; P < 0.05) was significantly reduced in the RUPP group compared to the sham-operated controls. Fetal growth indices, including litter size, fetal weight, and placental weight, were significantly reduced in the RUPP group compared to sham-operated controls, which is consistent with significant growth restriction. Data suggest that RUPP promotes hyperresponsiveness and impaired endothelium-dependent relaxation in uterine arcuate arteries, leading to intrauterine fetal growth restriction.
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