The present study was designed to examine the effects of ET-1 (endothelin-1) and serum from PE (pre-eclamptic), HP (healthy pregnant) and HNP (healthy non-pregnant) women on uterine arterial perfusion pressure and uterine contractility. Swine uteri (n=25) were perfused for a period of up to 11 h, with the aim being to preserve a viable organ. Various concentrations of ET-1 as well as serum from PE, HP and HNP women (n=10 per group) were administered to the perfused swine uteri and IUP (intrauterine pressure) and IAP (intra-arterial pressure) were recorded. ET-1 produced dose-dependent increases in IUP and IAP. The ET-1 concentration in serum was higher in serum from PE women than in HP and HNP women (P>0.05). Administration of all serum samples had a contractile effect on the swine uterus, with the greatest effect being seen in HNP women (12.8±5.3 mmHg), followed by PE (9.06±4.2 mmHg) and HP (6.1±4.1 mmHg) women. Statistically significant differences were observed between HNP and PE women (P=0.048), and PE and HP women (P=0.021). Increases in IAP following administration of serum from PE women (48.8±20.0 mmHg) were significantly higher (P=0.024) compared with the effect of serum from HP women (28.4±13.7 mmHg). In conclusion, the findings show that serum from PE women has significant vasoconstrictive and oxytocic effects compared with serum from HP women. In pre-eclampsia, the balance between vasorelaxing and vasoactive substances is disturbed.

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