Objective: Reductions in sodium pump (SP) abundance can give rise to increases in contractile force in uterine and vascular smooth muscle as well as an increased secretion in secretory cells, including potentially those of the placenta. To determine whether the mouse might serve as a model for human pregnancy in terms of the SP and to determine whether changes in SP abundance anticipate or follow labor, we studied pregnant mice over the final trimester of their pregnancy.

Study Design: C57Bl6 dams (n=46) were bred and studied during their pregnancy. Animals (n=4) were sacrificed at specific gestational time points. Other mice had labor induced with LPS on Gestational day 15 and were then studied at specific time points after induction. Specimens were studied for mRNA abundance as well as protein abundance using methods such as Real time RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. Data were analyzed by ANOVA with post hoc Duncan's pair-wise comparisons.

Results: Levels of uterine SP α3 isoform mRNA were most abundant on day 14 near the beginning of the third trimester. There was a significant fall in SP &alpha3 mRNA abundance by day 18 with a slightly lower level on the day of birth but an increased SP α3 mRNA abundance by one day post partum. Contrary to the uterus, SP α3 mRNA levels in the placenta increased over the last trimester, from day 14 to the day of birth. Western blot analysis on the two tissues demonstrated a somewhat similar pattern. In the LPS studies of uterus and placenta, the SP α3 isoform protein abundance appeared to fall when compared to the 2 hour time point. Those animals which were injected with a vehicle control showed very little change in SP α3 abundance after injection. While protein levels were reduced, there was no significant reduction in mRNA for all specimens.

Conclusion: Uterine SP α3 isoform protein expression fell late in mouse pregnancy but prior to labor and appeared to be mediated by reductions in its mRNA. These reductions paralleled changes observed in term pregnant women. Such reductions would increase the sensitivity of the uterus to agents causing contraction but may directly increase the force, duration and frequency of contractions. Placental SP α3 isoform protein expression had no significant change over the final trimester. However, unlike uterine protein, the placental protein may not be mediated by its mRNA. Reductions in SP α3 protein abundance were also seen in preterm labor produced by LPS induction. These changes may not be mediated by mRNA. Taken together, changes in the SP α3 isoform may represent a fundamental mechanism in the initiation and/ or progression of term labor and in preterm in mouse and potentially in human.



College and Department

Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Chemistry and Biochemistry



Date Submitted


Document Type





uterus, placenta, Sodium Pump, preterm labor, mouse, Western blot analysis, real time PCR