Processes Regulating Cervical Ripening Differ from Cervical Dilation and Postpartum Repair: Insights from Gene Expression Studies

Brenda C. Timmons, Mala Mahendroo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


A greater understanding of the processes that regulate cervical remodeling during pregnancy, parturition, and the postpartum period is required to understand causes of preterm and posterm birth in which abnormal cervical function is the primary culprit. In the current study, gene expression patterns unique to cervical ripening as compared with cervical dilation and/or postpartum repair are identified in a mouse model. Genes differentially regulated from gestation day 15 to late day 18 reveal processes important for cervical ripening. Genes differentially regulated from late day 18 to 2 hours after birth reveal processes that could be important during cervical dilation or the postpartum recovery period. Based on expression patterns, cervical ripening requires a downregulation of collagen assembly genes; increased synthesis of glycosaminoglycans that disrupt the matrix, such as hyaluronan; increased metabolism of progesterone; and changes in epithelial barrier properties. The latter phases of dilation and postpartum recovery are associated with increased assembly of mature collagen, synthesis of matrix proteins that promote a dense connective tissue, activation of inflammatory responses, prostaglandin synthesis, and further changes in epithelial barrier properties and differentiation. Processes/gene expression required for cervical ripening are distinct from those important in latter phases of cervical remodeling and highlight the importance of timing of tissue collection for understanding the molecular mechanisms of cervical ripening.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-62
Number of pages10
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number8_suppl
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007


  • Parturition
  • cervical dilation
  • cervical ripening
  • gene expression.
  • postpartum repair

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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