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Keywords:

  • glomerular filtration;
  • cardiac output;
  • vascular resistance;
  • arterial compliance;
  • myogenic reactivity;
  • matrix metalloproteinase;
  • endothelin;
  • nitric oxide;
  • vasodilation

In this paper, the hemodynamic changes of normal pregnancy are reviewed and the underlying hormonal and molecular mechanisms are discussed. Among other findings related to these phenomena, our previous work has demonstrated the importance of relaxin in systemic and renal vascular as well as osmoregulatory changes during gestation. These findings are summarized, and new concepts related to the function of relaxin in blood vessels are presented. Finally, work in progress is briefly outlined.