Pro-labour myometrial gene expression: Are preterm labour and term labour the same?

Mark Tattersall, Neelam Engineer, Shirin Khanjani, Suren R. Sooranna, Victoria H. Roberts, Peta L. Grigsby, Zhiqing Liang, Les Myatt, Mark R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Preterm labour (PTL) is the most important cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality. While some causes have been identified, the mechanisms involved remain elusive. This study investigates whether term labour (TL) is an appropriate model for PTL by examining pro-labour gene expression, using quantitative rtPCR, and protein synthesis, using Western analysis, in preterm and term myometrial sample obtained from the upper and lower uterine segments before and after the onset of labour. In the lower segment, the levels of prostaglandin H synthase type-2 (PGHS-2), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-6 and IL-8 mRNA expression were significantly higher in TL compared with PTL samples. Compared with non-labour controls, the expression of IL-1β and IL-8 mRNA was increased in both PTL and TL samples and the expression of PGHS-2 and IL-6 mRNA was increased in TL samples only. In the upper segment, there were no differences between PTL and TL samples and the mRNA expression of PGHS-2 and IL-1β was increased in TL compared with term no labour samples. No effect of PTL or TL was seen on either oxytocin receptor or connexin-43 mRNA expression or protein levels. The multiple regression analysis and studies in primary cultures of uterine myocytes suggest that the inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β and tumour necrosis factor-α, are the most important regulators of PGHS-2 and IL-8. Our data show that preterm and term labouring myometrium are significantly different and that the most marked labour-induced changes in gene expression are in the lower segment. These changes may occur in response to the release of inflammatory cytokines by the labour-associated inflammatory infiltration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-579
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Cell Biology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Embryology


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