Developmental changes in mesenteric artery reactivity in embryonic and newly hatched chicks

Rob M. Moonen, Eduardo Villamor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


At birth, the intestine becomes the sole site for nutrient absorption requiring a dramatic increase in blood flow. The vascular changes accompanying this transition have been partly characterized in mammals. We investigated, using wire myography, the developmental changes in chick mesenteric artery (MA) reactivity. Rings of the MA from 15-day (E15) and 19-day (E19) chicken embryos (total incubation 21 days) as well as non-fed 0-3-h-old (NH3h) and first-fed 1-day-old (NH1d) newly hatched chicks contracted in response to KCl, norepinephrine (NE), U46619, and endothelin (ET)-1 and relaxed in response to acetylcholine (ACh), sodium nitroprusside (SNP), and forskolin indicating the presence of electro- and pharmaco-mechanical coupling as well as cGMP- and cAMP-mediated relaxation. In ovo development and transition to ex ovo life was accompanied by alterations in the response of the MAs, but a different developmental trajectory was observed for each reactivity pathway tested. Thus, the contractile efficacy of KCl underwent a linear increase (E15 <E19 <NH3h <NH1d). The efficacy of NE and U46619 increased in ovo, but not ex ovo (E15 <E19 = NH3h = NH1d) and the efficacy of ET-1 peaked at E19 (E15 <E19 > NH3h = NH1d). The relaxations elicited by ACh (endothelium-dependent), SNP, and forskolin did not undergo significant developmental changes. In conclusion, the ability of chick MAs to constrict in response to pharmacological stimuli increases during the embryonic period, but no dramatic changes are induced by hatching or the first feeding. Maturation of vasodilator mechanisms precedes that of vasoconstrictor mechanisms. Alterations of the delicate balance between vasoconstrictors and vasodilators may play an important role in perinatal intestinal diseases.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1073
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B-Biochemical Systemic and Environmentalphysiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Mesenteric artery
  • Chicken embryo
  • Vascular reactivity

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