[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endogenous retinoic acid may play a role in inducing smooth muscle differentiation in the fetal ductus arteriosus. Maternal administration of retinoic acid may accelerate the process. This study was designed to investigate the effect of vitamin A on developmental changes in the contractile system of the ductus. Vitamin A was injected into pregnant rats and the ductus was isolated from the fetus at 19, 20, or 21 d of gestation. The fetus at 19 d of gestation served as a model of the preterm fetus. The force of contraction and [Ca]i were measured. Membrane depolarization caused by high KCl induced ductal contraction in all age groups studied. In the 19-d fetus, O2 did not cause significant contraction or changes in [Ca]i in the control group, but it did induce a significant contraction and increases in [Ca]i in the vitamin A-treated group. In the 20- and 21-d fetuses, 5% O2-induced contraction in the vitamin A-treated group was significantly greater than in the control group. In the 19-d fetus, noradrenaline-induced contraction and increases in [Ca]i, indicators of the size of the intracellular Ca pool, were observed and they were similar in the control group and in the vitamin A-treated group. These data suggest that 1) in the preterm fetus, the contractile system, including membrane depolarization, [Ca]i increase, and its activation of contractile proteins, is already functioning, but the O2-sensing mechanism is underdeveloped, 2) vitamin A accelerates the development of the O2-sensing mechanism of the ductus arteriosus.
Full-text · Article · Jul 2001 · Pediatric Research