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ABSTRACT: 1. Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a common congenital heart defect in premature infants. The present study was designed to determine the role of the prostaglandin (PG) E(2) pathway in the process of ductus arteriosus (DA) maturation and functional closure. 2. Changes in PGE(2) pathway-related enzymes and receptors in DA in preterm and term rabbits were examined at both the mRNA and protein levels. In addition, responses of DA rings to Po(2) and PGE(2) were determined. 3. Circulating PGE(2) levels remained high until 2 h after birth. High levels of the EP(4) receptor were found in preterm DA. These tissues were sensitive to PGE(2), which caused vessel dilation, but were insensitive to increased Po(2). In contrast, DA tissues from term rabbits exhibited an immediate contractile response to increased Po(2) and PGE(2) treatment resulted in vasoconstriction, which was associated with increased EP(3) and decreased EP(4) receptor expression in term DA. 4. In conclusion, the preterm PDA is maintained by high levels of PGE(2), which mainly binds to the EP(4) receptor under conditions of hypoxia. In contrast, in the term DA, in which levels of the EP(3) receptor are higher than in preterm DA, exposure to PGE(2) resulted in vasoconstriction under normoxic conditions. These findings suggest that blocking the EP(4) receptor may represent a more selective treatment for the preterm PDA, whereas activating the EP(3) receptor may be more suitable for the treatment of the term PDA.
Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology 05/2010; 37(5-6):574-80. · 2.16 Impact Factor