Relaxin is a protein hormone that is secreted by the mammal species during pregnancy. The hormone is produced by the corpus luteum, the decidua, and the placenta. The hormone is essential during pregnancy phase because it softens and then loosens the pelvic girdle. However, the hormone is also secreted in men but for a different purpose. In men, relaxin is emitted from the pastorate gland, where it can be detected in the semen (Mita, 2016). However, the relaxin hormone is never found in the blood circulation in men. It is essential to understand the structure of relaxin to understand the vital roles it plays in the human body. Besides, due to its significant role in facilitating safe delivery in pregnant women, the absence of the hormone can have dire consequences to secure delivery. However, researchers have expressed that the hormone does have numerous other functions in the human body, including the development of the nipple. Therefore, it is essential to understand the structure, functions, and the impact of the relaxin protein hormone.
The relaxin hormone was first discovered in 1926 after an experiment was conducted on Guinea pigs. The relaxin hormone consists of a pair of polypeptide chains that have one intrachain and two other interchain. The interchain have a disulfide link which resembles those found in the insulin. It is the reason why researchers term relaxin as a peptide-like that belongs to the insulin family. The hormone consists of 7 peptides that are of high structure with low sequence similarity. That is relaxin-1 (RLN1), 2 (RLN2), and 3 (RLN3) (Mita, 2016). The insulin-like peptides (INSL) are listed as INSL3, INSL4, INSL5, and INSL6 (Mita, 2016). However, researchers have expressed that roles of relaxin-3, INSL4, INSL5, INSL6 is yet known, and studies are extending in that direction.
The structure of the relaxin hormone is dependent on the formation of two different proteins that are referred to as heterodimer. The involved peptide chains are the 24 and 29 chains of amino acids that are joined by bridges of disulfide (Mita, 2016). Besides, the relaxin originates from the prorelaxin, which is a prohormone. The process of producing prorelaxin is to split an additional peptide chain reaction.
One of the most dominant services of relaxin is the significant role it plays during pregnancy. Even though the research of relaxin in human is limited, it is produced by the corpus luteum in women who are pregnant or about to ovulate (Dehghan, Haerian & Muniandy, 2013). When a woman is on the 14th day of ovulation, the relaxin levels in their body increases beyond the normal levels. If the woman does not get pregnant during their ovulation phase, the levels of relaxin hormones will lower (Dehghan et al. 2013). When the levels of relaxin are low, the human female species experiences their menstruation.
However, in other cases, the woman may get pregnant during their ovulation period, which means that the next phase of the relaxin hormone kicks in. The hormone is, at times, involved in decidualization (Dehghan et al. 2013). Decidualization is the process of the cells undergoing significant changes as they prepare the body for and during pregnancy. The relaxin excretion is present in all the stages of pregnancy but varies in the concentration. For example, the levels of relaxin rise during the first trimester, and in case there is a need for more the decidua produces the required standards. However, on the 14th week of pregnancy and during the childbirth, the levels of relaxin are all-time high (Dehghan et al. 2013). Some of the main functions of relaxin during pregnancy is that it facilitates the hemodynamic changes and an increase in the flow of renal blood. It is also known to causes the relaxation of the pelvic ligaments and the softening of the pubic symphysis.
Relaxin hormone is also present in men where its primary function is to enhance the sperm motility (Mita, 2016). However, the research on the functions of the relaxin hormone in men is limited. More so, scientist refers to use animals, such as guinea pigs and mice to conduct the effects and functions of the relaxin hormone. Therefore, the limited function of the hormone on men is a challenge on the significance of relaxin hormone in people of the opposite gender.
Therefore, most of the finding of the function of relaxin hormone during pregnancy were observed on the role they played on various animals. Relaxin is known to widen the pubic bones, which then facilitates labor and the softening of the cervix. The characteristics have made it get the name of the pregnancy hormone. The same aspects experienced in human females are present in most animals. The reason for the similarity is because most of the mammalian animals that are used in experiments have a resemblance to the functioning of the humans. Some of the other animals that have shown similar finding on the function of relaxin hormone during pregnancy include horses and rabbits.
The relaxin hormone is found to be essential in facilitating a smooth pregnancy, but at times, it can have some side effects. The significant side effects of the high relaxin hormone are that they can affect the proper function g of the brain (Yourhormones.info, 2018). It takes a while for a mother to adapt to the side effects, which can include mood swings. Besides, most women will experience morning sickness in the first few weeks of their pregnancy, which is mostly characterized by vomiting and nausea. The morning sickness lasts for a few weeks but is detected chiefly between the 5th and the 6th week.
Another common side effect is the regular pain and discomfort of the lower back and the pelvis, especially during the first trimester. The results are shared between the seventh and the tenth week. The effects of relaxin hormone on the pelvis area can, at times, lead to decreased stability because the joints become softer than expected (Khanacademy.org, 2017). Some women may find the softening of the bones as discomforting and thus notice that they are losing their balance often. In some cases, the women may see that the level of constipation has increased, which is due to the decline in the gut motion. The growth of the fetus may also serve as an explanation of the constipation experience. The side effects of the hormone decline after the first trimester and the pregnant women will feel some relieved from the discomforting experience.
Researchers have, over the years, claimed that the relaxin hormone has various benefits that are yet to be utilized. Some of the studies have found that relaxin can be used in playing a therapeutic role, especially in fibrotic diseases such as chronic kidney disorder. According to a survey by Sasser (2013), relaxin hormone has some role in the cardiorenal system, which is an expansion from the early studies that concentrate on the reproductive system. The researcher found that relaxin and its receptor RXFP1 are both expressed in the kidney. One of the dominant roles of relaxin hormone in the kidney is in real vasodilation, as a fibrotic agent and also in the excretion of sodium. The researcher claimed that the functions of the relaxin hormone in the maintaining of a healthy kidney could not be overlooked. Besides, relaxin prevents the spread of diseases progression.
Another research has found that relaxin hormone can be used in the treatment of Asthma. The relaxin hormone has been found to contain the critical ability to breakdown collagen, which is a significant characteristic of fibrosis. Fibrosis- related diseases have had a high number of associated deaths, and numerous scientists have been studying ways to come up with a reliable cure. Fibrotic scaring is a common condition that is characterized by the thickening of the arteries in the heart and also in damaged lungs. According to a study by Samuel, Royce, Hewitson, Denton, Cooney, and Bennett (2016), relaxin hormone has the potential to reverse the diseases that lead to the buildup of the collagen. The researcher based their study on treatment of patients with acute heart failure but their primary concern was on the use of a synthetic hormone. However, the worry was that it is expensive to produce the relaxin hormone in large scale and help in the creation of a drug that will treat Asthma. However, the formation of the relaxin has helped other researchers come up with the idea of creating a single chained form of relaxin (Florey.edu, 2018). The single chained relaxin helps with making the production cheap. The discovery of the new type of relaxin is a significant win for the treatment of fibrosis related diseases. Besides, it offers hope to a larger population that once the medicine is discovered a more inclusive community with the condition will have access to it. Therefore, the breakthrough in the application of the relaxin hormone is likely to lower the death rate of those with the fibrosis condition.
Therefore, the idea of using relaxin hormone is a viable solution in increasing the impact it has on humans. The hormone has been found to have significant befit in facilitating the safe delivery of women. Even though the research on its role and secretion in men is limited, there are enough findings that it can cure a range of illnesses. One of the dominant issues is in the treatment of heart diseases where a large population has experienced the effects of thickening go the arteries. It is an indication that further research on the issue will provide more benefits. More so, the treatment of kidney disorders shows that the concentration on reproductive health is not the only benefit of the hormone. However, the side effects of relaxin hormone, especially in the pregnant species, require in-depth research. Nonetheless, it is evident that the side effects are not life-threatening and that the benefits outdo the side effects. Therefore, it is the duty f researchers so increase their analysis on which other areas that the relaxin hormone can help in improving human life.
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