Adrenomedullin in mammalian embryogenesis



Here are summarized data supporting that adrenomedullin (AM) is a multifunctional factor involved in the complex regulatory mechanisms of mammalian development. During rodent embryogenesis, AM is first expressed in the heart, followed by a broader but also defined spatio-temporal pattern of expression in vascular, neural, and skeletal-forming tissues as well as in the main embryonic internal organs. AM pattern of expression is suggestive of its involvement in the control of embryonic invasion, proliferation, and differentiation processes, probably through autocrine or paracrine modes of action. AM levels in fetoplacental tissues, uterus, maternal and umbilical plasma are highly increased during normal gestation. These findings in addition to other physiological and gene targeting studies support the importance of AM as a vasorelaxant factor implicated in the regulation of maternal vascular adaptation to pregnancy, as well as of fetal and fetoplacental circulations. AM is also present in amniotic fluid and milk, which is suggestive of additional functions in the maturation and immunological protection of the fetus. Altered expression of AM has been found in some gestational pathologies, although it is not yet clear whether this corresponds to causative or compensatory mechanisms. Future studies in regard to the distribution and expression levels of the molecules known to function as AM receptors, together with data on the action of complement factor H (an AM binding protein), may help to better define the roles of AM during embryonic development. Microsc. Res. Tech. 57:40–54, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.