We studied the effects of oxygen and indomethacin on the isometric contractile response and the production of PGE2 in isolated rings of lamb ductus arteriosus from animals of different gestational ages (100 to 144 days; term is 150 days). Rings of ductus arteriosus from animals less than 110 days released significantly less PGE2 than did rings from animals greater than 120 days. The indomethacin-induced increase in muscle tension in relation to the decrease in endogenous PGE2 production in preparations from animals less than 110 days gestation was greater than in animals older than 120 days. These findings do not support the hypothesis that immature animals have a larger indomethacin-induced contraction due to an increased production of PGE2 earlier in gestation. They are, however, consistent with a decreased sensitivity to PGE2 in the more mature animals; they also support the hypothesis that the decreased effectiveness of indomethacin on the ductus arteriosus from later gestation animals reflects primarily a decrease in the sensitivity of the vessel to PGE2 during development.
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