AM stimulates uterine growth and vascularization (Zhao et al., 1998), and inhibits spontaneous and bradykinin-induced uterine contractility (Yanagita et al., 2000). A marked increase in plasma AM concentration is observed during pregnancy, and this increase may be related to the production of AM by the uterus and placenta. In addition, AM is detected in amniotic fluid at higher levels than in plasma. Although the physiological significance of AM in pregnancy has not been sufficiently clarified, AM may play various roles during normal pregnancy. For example, AM may contribute to maternal hemodynamic changes and regulation of local uteroplacental circulation. AM may also be importantly involved in embryogenesis and differentiation, placental development, and placental vasculogenesis (Montuenga et al., 1997; Beltowski and Jamroz, 2004).
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