The effects of female sex hormones on the dimensions of myometrial smooth muscle fibres were studied by using ovariectomized rabbits. After one month of treatment, the fiber dimensions of the outer myometrial layer were measured, using cryostat sections. Calculated smooth muscle fiber volume was found to be in the sequence: control < medroxyprogesterone < estradiol < estradiol + medroxyprogesterone < estradiol alone. The measurements show that medroxyprogesterone-treated uteri contain the narrowest and the longest smooth muscle fibres, while estradiol treatment have the largest cells. This study complements previous observations in showing that medroxyprogesterone alone, or in combination with other modulators, contributes to sustain pregnancy by increasing internal resistance of estradiol-primed myometrial smooth muscle fiber fascicles. Our discussion, based on recent literature, shows that this resistance is ultimately controlled by changes in the myometrium innervation, in the repression of some controlling myofibrillar components, in the expression of specific membrane receptors and ionic channels, and in favoring the switching of molecular connexins in gap junctions, making P paramount in maintaining pregnancy. Moreover, other recent observations have also shown that probably an hcG-like hormone actually control P receptors expression in myometrial smooth muscles. (C) 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.
- Smooth muscle