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The exact biochemical mechanisms that initiate labor are not yet fully understood. Nitric oxide is a potent relaxant of uterine smooth muscles until labor starts, and its precursor is L-arginine. Asymmetric (ADMA) and symmetric (SDMA) dimethylarginines, are potent NO-inhibitors. However, arginines (dimethylarginines and L-arginine) are scarcely studied in relation to labor and childbirth. We aimed to investigate arginines in women with spontaneous (SLVB) and induced (ILVB) term labor with vaginal birth and in women undergoing elective caesarean section (ECS). Women at gestational week 16-18 were recruited to the population-based prospective cohort study BASIC at the Uppsala University Hospital, Sweden. Plasma samples taken at start of labor were analyzed for arginines, from SLVB (n = 45), ILVB (n = 45), and ECS (n = 45), using Ultra-High Performance Liquid Chromatography. Between-group differences were assessed using Kruskal-Wallis and Mann-Whitney U-test. Women with SLVB and ILVB had higher levels of ADMA (p < .0001), SDMA (p < .05) and lower L-arginines (p < .01), L-arginine/ADMA (p < .0001), and L-arginine/SDMA (p < .01, respectively <.001) compared to ECS. However, ILVB had higher ADMA (p < .0001) and lower L-arginine (p < .01), L-arginine/ADMA (p < .0001), and L-arginine/SDMA (p < .01) compared to SLVB. Results are adjusted for gestational length at birth and cervical dilatation at sampling. Our novel findings of higher levels of dimethylarginines in term vaginal births compared to ECS give insights into the biochemical mechanisms of labor. These findings might also serve as a basis for further studies of arginines in complicated pregnancies and labor. © 2023 The Authors. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


Tansim Akhter, Mikael Hedeland, Jonas Bergquist, Kumari Ubhayasekera, Anders Larsson, Merit Kullinger, Alkistis Skalkidou. Plasma levels of arginines at term pregnancy in relation to mode of onset of labor and mode of childbirth. American journal of reproductive immunology (New York, N.Y. : 1989). 2023 Sep;90(3):e13767

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PMID: 37641379

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