Plasticity in Uterine Innervation: State of the Art

Author(s): Monica M. Brauer

Journal Name: Current Protein & Peptide Science

Volume 18 , Issue 2 , 2017

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Graphical Abstract:


Early studies often claimed that autonomic nerves were unimportant for uterine function, since denervation of the uterus had little effects on reproductive success. In 1979, Thorbert wrote, “It seems unlikely that Nature has equipped the uterus with a complex innervation merely as a structural ornament. Our ignorance in this area may be rather due to defects in methods of study”. Investigations carried out over the last four decades proved that Thorbert’s words were correct, because it is now clear that autonomic and sensory nerves regulate many critical uterine functions. However, the most remarkable aspect of uterine innervation is its capacity to change in response to physiological fluctuations in levels of sex hormones, as those accompanying pregnancy, the sex cycle and puberty. The present review provides an overview about how sex hormones influence uterine innervation. Data are presented about how this physiological plasticity is mimicked by exogenous administration of sex hormones, particularly estrogen. We will review recent developments illustrating the complex multifactorial mechanisms regulating uterine neural plasticity and the nature of molecular signals involved. Finally, we will go through recent findings pointing to the relevance of uterine innervation in gynecological diseases leading to pain and infertility.

Keywords: Estrogen, pregnancy, sympathetic nerves, parasympathetic nerves, sensory nerves, neuroplasticity, uterine fibroids, endometriosis.

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Article Details

Year: 2017
Published on: 22 March, 2016
Page: [108 - 119]
Pages: 12
DOI: 10.2174/1389203717666160322145411
Price: $65

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