Reproduction, Fertility and Development Reproduction, Fertility and Development Society
Vertebrate reproductive science and technology

A quantitative study of rat uterine sympathetic innervation during pregnancy and post partum

R. Chávez-Genaro A D , P. Lombide A B and G. Anesetti A C

A Departamento de Histología y Embriología, Facultad de Medicina, General Flores 2125, CP 11800, Montevideo, Uruguay.

B Sección Biología Celular, Departamento de Biología Celular y Molecular, Instituto de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias, Iguá 4245, CP 11400, Montevideo, Uruguay.

C Area de Histología y Embriología, Facultad de Veterinaria, Las Places 1550, CP 11600, Montevideo, Uruguay.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Reproduction, Fertility and Development 18(5) 525-531
Submitted: 9 May 2005  Accepted: 26 February 2006   Published: 16 May 2006


In mammals, pregnancy induces a transient and extensive degeneration of uterine sympathetic innervation. We used the models of unilateral oviduct ligation and in oculo myometrium transplant in pregnant rats to address the role of stretching forces and/or hormone milieu in the loss of sympathetic innervation. The sympathetic fibres of the uterine horn and in oculo myometrial transplants were quantified on tissue sections processed by the glyoxylic acid technique. In normal pregnant rats, the density of uterine horn innervation was significantly reduced at late pregnancy and recovery took place during post partum. The empty horn of pregnant rats showed no significant changes in density of myometrial innervation during pregnancy or post partum. In oculo myometrial transplants were organotypically reinnervated in virgin animals. When the transplants were exposed to gestational hormonal milieu, few or no fibres were observed to the end of pregnancy; however, a significant increase at post partum was observed. Results showed that both the effects of stretching and the hormone milieu derived from the fetus–placenta complex play a role as inductors of changes on sympathetic myometrial innervation during pregnancy and support the idea that immature muscular uterine fibres are more susceptible to the effects of pregnancy than those originating from adult animals.

Extra keywords: sympathetic nerves, transplant, uterus.


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