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Microbiology - Obstetrics

Nuclear Factor Kappa B Activation Occurs in the Amnion Prior to Labour Onset and Modulates the Expression of Numerous Labour Associated Genes
Published: Monday, April 02, 2012
Author: Sheri Lim et al.

by Sheri Lim, David A. MacIntyre, Yun S. Lee, Shirin Khanjani, Vasso Terzidou, T. G. Teoh, Phillip R. Bennett


Prior to the onset of human labour there is an increase in the synthesis of prostaglandins, cytokines and chemokines in the fetal membranes, particular the amnion. This is associated with activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF?B). In this study we characterised the level of NF?B activity in amnion epithelial cells as a measure of amnion activation in samples collected from women undergoing caesarean section at 39 weeks gestation prior to the onset of labour.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We found that a proportion of women exhibit low or moderate NF?B activity while other women exhibit high levels of NF?B activity (n?=?12). This activation process does not appear to involve classical pathways of NF?B activation but rather is correlated with an increase in nuclear p65-Rel-B dimers. To identify the full range of genes upregulated in association with amnion activation, microarray analysis was performed on carefully characterised non-activated amnion (n?=?3) samples and compared to activated samples (n?=?3). A total of 919 genes were upregulated in response to amnion activation including numerous inflammatory genes such cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2, 44-fold), interleukin 8 (IL-8, 6-fold), IL-1 receptor accessory protein (IL-1RAP, 4.5-fold), thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1, 3-fold) and, unexpectedly, oxytocin receptor (OTR, 24-fold). Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of the microarray data reveal the two main gene networks activated concurrently with amnion activation are i) cell death, cancer and morphology and ii) cell cycle, embryonic development and tissue development.


Our results indicate that assessment of amnion NF?B activation is critical for accurate sample classification and subsequent interpretation of data. Collectively, our data suggest amnion activation is largely an inflammatory event that occurs in the amnion epithelial layer as a prelude to the onset of labour.