Document Detail


Control and assessment of the uterus and cervix during pregnancy and labour.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10027621     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Preterm labour and resultant preterm birth are the most important problems in perinatology. Countless efforts have failed to establish a single effective treatment of preterm labour, partly because the mechanisms regulating the uterus and cervix during pregnancy are not well understood. New knowledge is needed to inhibit early progression of labour (uterine contractility and cervical ripening), and adequate quantitative tools to evaluate the uterus and cervix during pregnancy are lacking. In this review, we outline studies showing that the uterus (myometrium) and cervix pass through a conditioning step in preparation for labour. This step is not easily identifiable with present methods to assess the uterus or cervix. In the uterus, this seemingly irreversible step consists of changes in the electrical properties to make muscle more excitable and responsive to produce forceful contractions. In the cervix, the step consists of softening of the connective tissue components. Progesterone appears to have a dominant role in controlling both the uterus and cervix, as antiprogestins induce early, preterm conditioning leading to preterm labour. Apparently, nitric oxide (NO) also controls conditioning of the uterus and cervix. In the uterus, NO, in concert with progesterone, inhibits uterine contractility. At term, NO production by the uterus and placenta are decreased and allow labour to progress. In contrast, NO in the cervix increases at the end of pregnancy and it may be the final pathway for stimulating cervical ripening by activation of metalloenzymes. The progress of labour can be assessed non-invasively using electromyographic (EMG) signals from the uterus (the driving force for contractility) recorded from the abdominal surface. Uterine EMG bursts detected in this manner characterize uterine contractile events during human and animal pregnancy. A low uterine EMG activity, measured transabdominally throughout most of pregnancy, rises dramatically during labour. EMG activity also increases substantially during preterm labour in humans and rats. This method may be used one day to predict impending preterm labour and identify control steps and treatments. A quantitative method also assesses the cervix, using an optical device which measures collagen fluorescence in the cervix. The collascope estimates cervical collagen content from a fluorescent signal generated when collagen cross-links are illuminated with excitation light of about 340 nm. The system has proved useful in rats and humans at various stages of pregnancy, and indicates that cervical softening occurs progressively in the last one-third of pregnancy. In rats, collascope readings correlate with resistance measurements made in the isolated cervix, which may help to assess cervical function during pregnancy, and indicate control and treatments.
Authors:
R E Garfield; G Saade; C Buhimschi; I Buhimschi; L Shi; S Q Shi; K Chwalisz
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Review    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Human reproduction update     Volume:  4     ISSN:  1355-4786     ISO Abbreviation:  Hum. Reprod. Update     Publication Date:    1998 Sep-Oct
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-04-16     Completed Date:  1999-04-16     Revised Date:  2004-11-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9507614     Medline TA:  Hum Reprod Update     Country:  ENGLAND    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  673-95     Citation Subset:  IM    
Affiliation:
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston 77555-1062, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Descriptor/Qualifier:
Animals
Calcium Channels / physiology
Cervix Uteri / physiology*
Female
Humans
Labor, Obstetric / physiology*
Myometrium / physiology
Nitric Oxide / physiology
Pregnancy / physiology*
Pregnancy, Animal / physiology*
Rats
Uterus / physiology*
Chemical
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Calcium Channels; 10102-43-9/Nitric Oxide

From MEDLINE®/PubMed®, a database of the U.S. National Library of Medicine


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