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In mouse models used to study parturition or pre-clinical therapeutic testing, measurement of uterine contractions is limited to either isometric tension or operative intrauterine pressure (IUP). The goal of this study was to: (1) develop a method for transcervical insertion of a pressure catheter to measure intrauterine contractile pressure during mouse pregnancy, (2) determine whether this method can be utilized numerous times in a single mouse pregnancy without affecting the timing of delivery or fetal outcome and (3) compare the contractile activity between mouse models of term and preterm labor (PTL). Visualization of the cervix allowed intrauterine pressure catheter (IUPC) placement into anesthetized pregnant mice (plug = day 1, delivery = day 19.5). The amplitude, frequency, duration and area under the curve (AUC) of IUP was lowest on days 16-18, increased significantly ( < 0.05) on the morning of day 19 and reached maximal levels during by the afternoon of day 19 and into the intrapartum period. An AUC threshold of 2.77 mmHg discriminated between inactive labor (day 19 am) and active labor (day 19 pm and intrapartum period). Mice examined on a single vs every experimental timepoint did not have significantly different IUP, timing of delivery, offspring number or fetal/neonatal weight. The IUP was significantly greater in LPS-treated and RU486-treated mouse models of PTL compared to time-matched vehicle control mice. Intrapartum IUP was not significantly different between term and preterm mice. We conclude that utilization of a transcervical IUPC allows sensitive assessment of uterine contractile activity and labor progression in mouse models without the need for operative approaches.
© 2018 Society for Reproduction and Fertility.
BACKGROUND - The cervix must undergo significant biochemical remodeling to allow for successful parturition. This process is not fully understood, especially in instances of spontaneous preterm birth. In vivo Raman spectroscopy is an optical technique that can be used to investigate the biochemical composition of tissue longitudinally and noninvasively in human beings, and has been utilized to measure physiology and disease states in a variety of medical applications.
OBJECTIVE - The purpose of this study is to measure in vivo Raman spectra of the cervix throughout pregnancy in women, and to identify biochemical markers that change with the preparation for delivery and postpartum repair.
STUDY DESIGN - In all, 68 healthy pregnant women were recruited. Raman spectra were measured from the cervix of each patient monthly in the first and second trimesters, weekly in the third trimester, and at the 6-week postpartum visit. Raman spectra were measured using an in vivo Raman system with an optical fiber probe to excite the tissue with 785 nm light. A spectral model was developed to highlight spectral regions that undergo the most changes throughout pregnancy, which were subsequently used for identifying Raman peaks for further analysis. These peaks were analyzed longitudinally to determine if they underwent significant changes over the course of pregnancy (P < .05). Finally, 6 individual components that comprise key biochemical constituents of the human cervix were measured to extract their contributions in spectral changes throughout pregnancy using a linear combination method. Patient factors including body mass index and parity were included as variables in these analyses.
RESULTS - Raman peaks indicative of extracellular matrix proteins (1248 and 1254 cm) significantly decreased (P < .05), while peaks corresponding to blood (1233 and 1563 cm) significantly increased (P < .0005) in a linear manner throughout pregnancy. In the postpartum cervix, significant increases in peaks corresponding to actin (1003, 1339, and 1657 cm) and cholesterol (1447 cm) were observed when compared to late gestation, while signatures from blood significantly decreased. Postpartum actin signals were significantly higher than early pregnancy, whereas extracellular matrix proteins and water signals were significantly lower than early weeks of gestation. Parity had a significant effect on blood and extracellular matrix protein signals, with nulliparous patients having significant increases in blood signals throughout pregnancy, and higher extracellular matrix protein signals in early pregnancy compared to patients with prior pregnancies. Body mass index significantly affected actin signal contribution, with low body mass index patients showing decreasing actin contribution throughout pregnancy and high body mass index patients demonstrating increasing actin signals.
CONCLUSION - Raman spectroscopy was successfully used to biochemically monitor cervical remodeling in pregnant women during prenatal visits. This foundational study has demonstrated sensitivity to known biochemical dynamics that occur during cervical remodeling, and identified patient variables that have significant effects on Raman spectra throughout pregnancy. Raman spectroscopy has the potential to improve our understanding of cervical maturation, and be used as a noninvasive preterm birth risk assessment tool to reduce the incidence, morbidity, and mortality caused by preterm birth.
Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.
PURPOSE - The reproductive windows between age at menarche and age at first birth (standardized age at first birth) and from menarche to menopause (reproductive lifespan) may interact with genetic variants in association with breast cancer risk.
METHODS - We assessed this hypothesis in 6131 breast cancer cases and 7274 controls who participated in the population-based Collaborative Breast Cancer Study. Risk factor information was collected through telephone interviews, and DNA samples were collected on a subsample (N= 1484 cases, 1307 controls) to genotype for 13 genome-wide association study-identified loci. Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated, and P values for the interaction between reproductive windows and genotypes were obtained by adding cross-product terms to statistical models.
RESULTS - For standardized age at first birth, the OR was 1.52 (CI, 1.36-1.71) comparing the highest quintile with the lowest quintile. Carrier status for rs10941679 (5p12) and rs10483813 (RAD51B) appeared to modify this relationship (P = .04 and P = .02, respectively). For reproductive lifespan, the OR comparing the highest quintile with the lowest quintiles was 1.62 (CI, 1.35-1.95). No interactions were detected between genotype and reproductive lifespan (all P > .05). All results were similar regardless of ductal versus lobular breast cancer subtype.
CONCLUSIONS - Our results suggest that the reproductive windows are associated with breast cancer risk and that associations may vary by genetic variants.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Human and rodent studies indicate a role for circadian rhythmicity and associated clock gene expression in supporting normal parturition. The importance of clock gene expression in tissues besides the suprachiasmatic nucleus is emerging. Here, a Bmal1 conditional knockout mouse line and a novel Cre transgenic mouse line were used to examine the role of myometrial Bmal1 in parturition. Ninety-two percent (22/24) of control females but only 64% (14/22) of females with disrupted myometrial Bmal1 completed parturition during the expected time window of 5p.m. on Day 19 through to 9a.m. on Day 19.5 of gestation. However, neither serum progesterone levels nor uterine transcript expression of the contractile-associated proteins Connexin43 and Oxytocin receptor differed between females with disrupted myometrial Bmal1 and controls during late gestation. The data indicate a role for myometrial Bmal1 in maintaining normal time of day of parturition.
The purpose of this study was to develop and validate two instruments: one to assess patient perceptions of control of the childbirth environment and the other, global satisfaction with the childbirth experience. Participants were 187 women recruited from obstetric clinics, breast-feeding support groups and online who had given birth in the past 4 months. Scale development involved item construction, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) of the Perceived Control in Childbirth Scale (PCCh), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) of the Satisfaction with Childbirth Scale (SWCh), reliability analysis and construct validity analyses. EFA identified a single factor underlying a set of items reflecting the patient's belief that her actions influenced the birth environment (i.e. perceived control). CFAs supported a single-factor model reflecting the degree to which the birth experience met the patient's ideal (i.e. satisfaction). Perceived control was associated with childbirth self-efficacy. Childbirth satisfaction was associated with both affective reactions to birth and childbirth-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Results support the validity and reliability of two new scales that assess perceived control of the birth environment and global satisfaction with childbirth.
BACKGROUND - The onset of birth in humans, like other apes, differs from non-primate mammals in its endocrine physiology. We hypothesize that higher primate-specific gene evolution may lead to these differences and target genes involved in human preterm birth, an area of global health significance.
METHODS - We performed a comparative genomics screen of highly conserved noncoding elements and identified PLA2G4C, a phospholipase A isoform involved in prostaglandin biosynthesis as human accelerated. To examine whether this gene demonstrating primate-specific evolution was associated with birth timing, we genotyped and analyzed 8 common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in PLA2G4C in US Hispanic (n = 73 preterm, 292 control), US White (n = 147 preterm, 157 control) and US Black (n = 79 preterm, 166 control) mothers.
RESULTS - Detailed structural and phylogenic analysis of PLA2G4C suggested a short genomic element within the gene duplicated from a paralogous highly conserved element on chromosome 1 specifically in primates. SNPs rs8110925 and rs2307276 in US Hispanics and rs11564620 in US Whites were significant after correcting for multiple tests (p < 0.006). Additionally, rs11564620 (Thr360Pro) was associated with increased metabolite levels of the prostaglandin thromboxane in healthy individuals (p = 0.02), suggesting this variant may affect PLA2G4C activity.
CONCLUSIONS - Our findings suggest that variation in PLA2G4C may influence preterm birth risk by increasing levels of prostaglandins, which are known to regulate labor.
Cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2, PLA2G4A) catalyzes the release of arachidonic acid for prostaglandin synthesis by cyclooxygenase 1 (PTGS1) and cyclooxygenase 2 (PTGS2). Mice with Pla2g4a deficiency have parturition delay and other reproductive deficits, including deferred onset of implantation, crowding of implantation sites, and small litters. In this study, we examined the contribution of PLA2G4A to parturition in mice. Pla2g4a mRNA and protein expression were discretely localized in the term and preterm uterine luminal epithelium and colocalized with Ptgs1, but not Ptgs2, expression. The levels of PGE2, PGF2alpha, 6-keto-PGF1alpha, and TxB2 were significantly decreased in Pla2g4a-null uterine tissues, similar to Ptgs1-null uteri, consistent with predominance of PLA2G4A-PTGS1-mediated prostaglandin synthesis in preparation for murine parturition. Litter size was strongly associated with the timing of parturition in Pla2g4a-null mice but could not fully account for the parturition delay. Pla2g4a-null females that received PGE2 + carbaprostacyclin at the time of implantation delivered earlier (20.5 +/- 0.2 days vs. 21.6 +/- 0.2 days, P < 0.01), although litter size was not improved (4.6 vs. 4.4 pups per litter, P = 0.6). After correction for small litter size, multivariate analysis indicated that Pla2g4a-null mice given prostaglandin treatment to improve implantation timing had gestational length that was similar to wild-type and Pla2g4a heterozygous mice. These results indicate that, despite specific Pla2g4a expression and function in term gestation uteri, the delayed parturition phenotype in Pla2g4a-null mice is primarily due to deferral of implantation. The role of PLA2G4A in timely parturition appears to be critically related to its actions in early pregnancy.
Biochemical changes of cervical connective tissue, including progressive disorganization of the collagen network and increased water content, occur during gestation to allow for cervical dilatation during labor, but the mechanisms that regulate cervical fluid balance are not fully understood. We examined whether aquaporins (AQPs), a family of membrane channel proteins that facilitate water transport, help mediate fluid balance in the mouse cervix during parturition. Of the 13 known murine AQPs, AQP0-2, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 12 were absent or at the limits of detection. By Northern blot and real-time PCR, AQP3 expression was low in nongravid and mid-pregnancy cervices with peak expression on d 19 and postpartum d 1 (PP1). AQP4 expression was generally low throughout pregnancy but showed a small upward trend at the time of parturition. AQP5 and AQP8 expression were significantly increased on d 12-15 but fell to nongravid/baseline by d 19 and PP1. By in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, AQP3 was preferentially expressed in basal cell layers of the cervical epithelium, whereas AQP4, 5, and 8 were primarily expressed in apical cell layers. Females with LPS-induced preterm labor had similar trends in AQP4, 5, and 8 expression to mice with natural labor at term gestation. Mice with delayed cervical remodeling due to deletion of the steroid 5alpha-reductase type 1 gene showed significant reduction in the levels of AQP3, 4, and 8 on d 19 or PP1. Together, these studies suggest that AQPs 3, 4, 5, and 8 regulate distinct aspects of cervical water balance during pregnancy and parturition.