Mechanisms of parturition: The transfer of prostaglandin E2 and 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid across fetal membranes

Phillip R. Bennett, Geoffrey V.P. Chamberlain, Lata Patel, Murdoch G. Elder, Leslie Myatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Prostaglandin E2 production by amnion is thought to be an important event in the onset of human labor. It has been suggested that 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid, also produced in the amnion, may mediate prelabor contractions. For either of these compounds to play a paracrine role they need to cross the chorion, which has a high capacity to metabolize prostaglandins. With the use of an in vitro system we have shown that both prostaglandin E2 and 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid cross either amnion or intact amnion-chorion-decidua at a rate similar to that of an extracellular marker sucrose. Analysis by high performance liquid chromatography revealed that at physiologic concentrations neither prostaglandin E2 nor 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid were metabolized by amnion alone. Moreover, 100% of the 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid and 72% of the prostaglandin E2 remained in the active form after passage across intact amnion-chorion-decidua. There did not appear to be any difference in the rate of transfer or permiability of the membranes before or after spontaneous labor. We conclude that both 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid and prostaglandin E2 synthesised in the amnion can cross the membranes by diffusion through the extracellular space, remaining largely unmetabolized, and may play a role in the onset of human labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)683-687
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • 5-hydroxyeicosatetraenoic acid
  • Labor
  • amnion
  • chorion
  • parturition
  • prostaglandin E

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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