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Researchers find process of cervical ripening differs between term and preterm birth
Date:6/20/2011

entified risk factors for preterm birth include smoking, alcohol consumption, advanced maternal age, genetics, cervical insufficiency, previous preterm birth and infection.

"In about half of all preterm births, the cause is unknown. It's critical to determine the multiple causes of preterm birth so that effective therapies can be developed for each kind," said Dr. Roxane Holt, a maternal-fetal medicine fellow and co-lead author of the study.

"When patients present in preterm labor, we don't have a lot of therapy to stop the labor," she said.

UT Southwestern researchers compared preterm birth models in mice. They injected lipopolysaccharide (LPS) to promote infection-like conditions and an inflammatory response in one model. In the other, they administered mifepristone (RU486) to simulate the withdrawal of the gestation-supporting hormone progesterone, which normally takes place at the end of a pregnancy.

Researchers report that cervical changes in inflammation-induced conditions are caused by an influx of white blood cells and an increased expression of pro-inflammatory markers with no increase in the expression of genes induced in term ripening. Preterm ripening induced by progesterone withdrawal results from the combined activation of processes that occur during term ripening and shortly postpartum.

"These findings, if translatable in women, suggest one therapy may not be effective for all preterm births, and that early identification of the cause of prematurity is necessary to determine the correct therapy," Dr. Mahendroo said.


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Contact: Robin Russell
robin.russell@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-3404
UT Southwestern Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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