Hyaluronan and its binding proteins during cervical ripening and parturition: Dynamic changes in size, distribution and temporal sequence

Monika Ruscheinsky, Carol De la Motte, Mala Mahendroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Scopus citations


The uterine cervix undergoes changes during pregnancy and labor that transform it from a closed, rigid, collagen dense structure to one that is distensible, has a disorganized collagen matrix, and dilates sufficiently to allow birth. To protect the reproductive tract from exposure to the external environment, the cervix must be rapidly altered to a closed, undistensible structure after birth. Preparturition remodeling is characterized by increased synthesis of hyaluronan, decreased expression of collagen assembly genes and increased distribution of inflammatory cells into the cervical matrix. Postpartum remodeling is characterized by decreased hyaluronan (HA) content, increased expression of genes involved in assembly of mature collagen and inflammation. The focus of this study is to advance our understanding of functions HA plays in this dynamic process through characterization of HA size, structure and binding proteins in the mouse cervix. Changes in size and structure of HA before and after birth were observed as well as cell specific expression of HA binding proteins. CD44 expression is localized to the pericellular matrix surrounding the basal epithelia and on immune cells while inter α trypsin inhibitor (IαI) and versican are localized to the stromal matrix. Colocalization of HA and IαI is most pronounced after birth. Upregulation of the versican degrading protease, ADAMTS1 occurs in the cervix prior to birth. These studies suggest that HA has multiple, cell specific functions in the cervix that may include modulation of tissue structure and integrity, epithelial cell migration and differentiation, and inflammatory responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-497
Number of pages11
JournalMatrix Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jun 2008


  • CD44
  • Cervical ripening
  • Hyaluronan
  • Parturition
  • Versican

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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