AskDefine | Define relaxin

Dictionary Definition

relaxin n : hormone secreted by the corpus luteum during the last days of pregnancy; relaxes the pelvic ligaments and prepares the uterus for labor

Extensive Definition

For the Miles Davis album, see Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet.
Relaxin is a peptide hormone that was first described in 1926 by Frederick Hisaw.
The relaxin-like peptide family belongs in the insulin superfamily and consists of 7 peptides of high structural but low sequence similarity; relaxin-1(RNL1), 2(RNL2) and 3(RNL3), and the insulin-like (INSL) peptides, INSL3, INSL4, INSL5 and INSL6. The functions of relaxin-3, INSL4, INSL5, INSL6 remain uncharacterised.


In the female, it is produced by the corpus luteum of the ovary, the breast and, during pregnancy, also by the placenta, chorion, and decidua.
In the male it is produced in the prostate and is present in human semen.


Structurally, relaxin is a heterodimer of two peptide chains of 24 and 29 amino acids that are linked by disulfide bridges and it appears related to insulin.
Relaxin is produced from its prohormone, “pro-relaxin”, by splitting off one additional peptide chain.


The function of relaxin in humans is not clear, although it has several functions in animals.

In humans

Relaxin is produced mainly by the corpus luteum, in both pregnant and non-pregnant females, it rises to a peak within approximately 14 days of ovulation and then declines in the absence of pregnancy resulting in menstruation. During the first trimester of pregnancy levels rise and additional relaxin is produced by the decidua.
Relaxin's role or necessity in human pregnancy remains under investigation, as in humans its peak is reached during the 14 days of the first trimester and at delivery.

In animals

In animals relaxin widens the pubic bone and facilitates labor, it also softens the cervix (cervical ripening), and relaxes the uterine musculature. Thus, for a long time, relaxin was looked at as a pregnancy hormone. However, its significance may reach much further. Relaxin affects collagen metabolism, inhibiting collagen synthesis and enhancing its breakdown by increasing matrix metalloproteinases. It also enhances angiogenesis and is a potent renal vasodilator.


Relaxin interacts with the relaxin receptor LGR7 (RXFP1) and LGR8 (RXFP2) which belong to the G-protein-coupled receptor superfamily. They contain a heptahelical transmembrane domain and a large glycosylated ectodomain, distantly related to the receptors for the glycoproteohormones, such as the LH-receptor or FSH-receptor.
Relaxin receptors have been found in the heart, smooth muscle, the connective tissue, and central and autonomous nervous system.


Specific disorders related to relaxin have not been described, yet it has been suggested that it could be linked to scleroderma and to fibromyalgia.


relaxin in Dhivehi: ރިލަކްސިން
relaxin in French: Relaxine
relaxin in Italian: Relaxina
relaxin in Japanese: リラキシン
relaxin in Polish: Relaksyna
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