A link between the “old wives’ tale” that morning sickness may indicate a healthy pregnancy, and the reason smoking is so detrimental has been found, according to a review published in the Journal of Molecular Endocrinology. The open-access article, published online on December 6, 2017, is titled “Morning Sickness Is Just the Side-Effect of a New Tachykinin That the Placenta Secretes to Improve Local Blood Flow.” The article discusses the importance of the hormone endokinin (a tachykinin) for healthy pregnancies, its role in causing morning sickness, and how its normal function may be adversely affected by smoking, leading to poor outcomes in pregnancy. Successful and effective implantation of the placenta is essential for a healthy pregnancy, but how this is achieved remains to be firmly established. In particular, the role of peptide hormones and the placenta in causing morning sickness is unclear. In this article, Professor Philip Lowry and Dr. Russell Woods from the University of Reading review the critical roles that peptide hormones have in ensuring successful implantation of the placenta, discuss how endokinin can indirectly lead to the development of morning sickness symptoms, and how its normal hormone function can be impaired by smoking. Endokinin is a peptide hormone found throughout the body that can affect blood supply to organs locally. Placental endokinin, even at low levels, appears to be capable of improving local blood flow, which is a key factor for ensuring successful implantation. Endokinin also acts on the brain to induce nausea and vomiting. This is why drugs that block the actions of endokinin in the brain are often used to treat nausea associated with chemotherapy.
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