Inducible nitric oxide synthase is present in the rat placenta at the fetal-maternal interface and decreases prior to labour

Tracy L. Purcell, Irina A. Buhimschi, Randall Given, Kristof Chwalisz, Robert E. Garfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


The aim of this study was to investigate the expression and distribution patterns of the inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in rat placenta during gestation and term labour. The expression of iNOS isoform was assessed by sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) and immunoblotting with monoclonal antibodies. Two specific bands were detected corresponding to 135 and 124 kDa in all placenta samples. The upper band (135 kDa) was identified as iNOS due to its correspondence with the band obtained with mouse macrophages (positive control). Compared with its concentrations on day 16, iNOS decreased steadily toward the end of gestation to ∼37% on day 20, 20% on day 22 before labour and 12% during labour (P <0.01). The lower band (124 kDa) drastically increased (to almost double) from day 16 to day 18 but returned to initial values on day 22, during delivery. Immunohistochemical staining of placentae at day 16 and 22 using rabbit polyclonal anti-iNOS antibody revealed labelling specifically concentrated in the trophospongial cell layer, at the fetal-maternal interface. The most conspicuous iNOS staining was associated with islands of cells referred to as vacuolated 'glycogen cells'. Staining was greatly decreased during labour. The changes in placental iNOS expression suggest a 'paracrine' role for NO in regulating uterine contractility, blood flow and immunosuppression required for pregnancy maintenance, NO withdrawal at term may also be involved in the initiation of labour.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-491
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1997


  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Labour
  • Nitric oxide
  • Placenta
  • Western blot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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