Determination of the source of equine relaxin

D. R. Stewart, G. H. Stabenfeldt, J. P. Hughes, Dennis Meagher

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32 Scopus citations


We have recently reported the profile of relaxin immunological activity in plasma throughout gestation in the mare. Based upon the appearance of relaxin activity in relation to the corpora lutea (CL) (which regress during pregnancy in the mare), we speculated that the CL were not the sole significant source of relaxin in the mare, and suggested that relaxin may be of placental origin. We wished to determine if the ovaries made any contribution to relaxin activity during pregnancy or if the placenta is the sole source of relaxin. Thoroughbred mares were ovariectomized on about Day 50 of gestation (Day 50 OVEX) before detectable relaxin secretion, or on Day 100 of gestation (Day 100 OVEX) after the initiation of secretion. In Day 50 ovariectomized animals, pregnancy was terminated at Day 100, 125 or 150 by caesarean section for tissue collection. Daily plasma samples were collected from Day 45 to the termination of pregnancy, or Day 150. In Day 50 ovariectomized animals, the time of initiation of relaxin secretion was similar to that of control animals. The increase in relaxin levels was not less than, but greater than that seen in normal animals. However, plasma progesterone and estrone were not significantly altered in these animals during the time that relaxin levels diverged. In Day 100 ovariectomized animals, the profile of plasma relaxin activity was similar to the profile in control animals. Tissue samples were collected from CL (Day 50 or 100), fetal gonads, endometrium, endometrial cups, placenta, and amnion. Relaxin activity was determined by radioimmunoassay (RIA). The highest amounts of relaxin activity were found in placental tissue. Activity in CL, endometrium, fetal gonads, and amnion were comparatively low. Endometrial cups contained intermediate amounts. Relaxin was found in a Day 65 placenta which is before relaxin is detectable in plasma. Relaxin activity was highest in the Day 150 placenta. Based upon the above studies, the CL of pregnant mares were not found to be a significant source of relaxin. It was concluded that the placenta is the main source of relaxin activity in the pregnant mare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-24
Number of pages8
JournalBiology of Reproduction
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1982

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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