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Menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding) is a common clinical problem of unknown aetiology. The free-radical and vasodilator nitric oxide (NO) relaxes the myometrial smooth muscle and is a strong candidate for the cause of excessive blood loss in menorrhagic patients. The aim of this study was to measure NO production in women with and without menorrhagia to detect nitric oxide synthase (NOS) isoforms in uterine cells and to investigate any steroid effects on myometrial NOS expression. We showed for the first time that menorrhagic endometrium produces significantly higher amounts of NOx (the sum of NO(2-) and NO(3-)) than control endometrium (P < 0.01). Inducible NOS (iNOS) protein was detected by immunoblotting in endometrial and myometrial tissue extracts. Quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments revealed an induction of myometrial smooth muscle endothelial NOS (eNOS) expression by progesterone and 17beta-oestradiol, while myometrial iNOS expression was unaffected by steroid hormones. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that NO plays a role in excessive menstrual bleeding and provide the first evidence on steroid regulation of eNOS in the human non-pregnant uterus.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Hum Reprod

Publication Date





1048 - 1054


Adult, Cells, Cultured, Estradiol, Female, Gene Expression, Gonadal Steroid Hormones, Humans, Immunoblotting, Menorrhagia, Muscle, Smooth, Nitric Oxide, Nitric Oxide Synthase, Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II, Progesterone, Uterus, Vasodilation