Effects of ovarian steroids and pregnancy on adrenergic nerves of uterus and oviduct

Am J Physiol. 1981 May;240(5):C165-74. doi: 10.1152/ajpcell.1981.240.5.C165.


This review concerns the influence of ovarian steroids and of pregnancy on norepinephrine (NE) metabolism in the adrenergic neurons of the female reproductive tract and speculates on the physiological consequences of this influence. Estrogen and progesterone affect not only the NE content of these nerves but also the turnover of NE, the activity of its synthetic enzyme, and releases of NE from nerve terminals. During pregnancy additional factors including stretch-induced hypertrophy come into play and cause degeneration of the nerves in the uterine corpus. This degeneration makes the muscle supersensitive to NE and may also induce morphological changes in the muscle cell membrane. As a result there may be a withdrawal of neural inhibitory influences on the corpus, allowing spontaneous myogenic contractions to intensify. Although the physiological significance of the steroid-transmitter interactions are still unclear, these nerves per se are of interest because they represent a model system for the study of neuroendocrine regulation in the peripheral nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Castration
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Fallopian Tubes / innervation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects
  • Norepinephrine / metabolism
  • Pregnancy*
  • Progesterone / pharmacology*
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / drug effects
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Uterus / innervation*


  • Estrogens
  • Progesterone
  • Norepinephrine