Adaptive changes of mesenteric arteries in pregnancy: a meta-analysis

Joris van Drongelen*, Carlijn R. Hooijmans, Frederik K. Lotgering, Paul Smits, Marc E. A. Spaanderman

*Corresponding author for this work

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van Drongelen J, Hooijmans CR, Lotgering FK, Smits P, Spaanderman ME. Adaptive changes of mesenteric arteries in pregnancy: a meta-analysis. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol 303: H639-H657, 2012. First published July 20, 2012; doi:10.1152/ajpheart.00617.2011.-The vascular response to pregnancy has been frequently studied in mesenteric artery models by investigating endothelial cell (EC)- and smooth muscle cell (SMC)-dependent responses to mechanical (flow-mediated vasodilation, myogenic reactivity, and vascular compliance) and pharmacological stimuli (G protein-coupled receptor responses: Gq(EC), Gs(SMC), Gq(SMC)). It is unclear to what extent these pathways contribute to normal pregnancy-induced vasodilation across species, strains, and/or gestational age and at which receptor level pregnancy affects the pathways. We performed a meta-analysis on responses to mechanical and pharmacological stimuli associated with pregnancy-induced vasodilation of mesenteric arteries and included 55 (188 responses) out of 398 studies. Most included studies (84%) were performed in Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats (SDRs) and compared late gestation versus nonpregnant controls (80%). Pregnancy promotes flow-mediated vasodilation in all investigated species. Only in SDRs, pregnancy additionally stimulates both vasodilator Gq(EC) sensitivity (EC50 reduced by -0.76 [-0.92, -0.60] log[M]) and Gs(SMC) sensitivity (EC50 reduced by -0.51 [-0.82, -0.20] log[M]), depresses vasopressor Gq(SMC) sensitivity (EC50 increase in SDRs by 0.23 [0.16, 0.31] log[M]), and enhances arterial compliance. We conclude that 1) pregnancy facilitates flow-mediated vasodilation at term among all investigated species, and the contribution of additional vascular responses is species and strain specific, and 2) late pregnancy mediates vasodilation through changes at the receptor level for the substances tested. The initial steps of vasodilation in early pregnancy remain to be elucidated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H639-H657
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


  • mesenteric
  • artery
  • pregnancy
  • systematic review
  • meta-analysis

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