Clues to regulation of labor

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New research hopes to shed light on premature births and failed labor inductions. The new study takes a look at the role of myosin phosphorylation in regulating the pregnant uterus.

Researchers have discovered that phosphorylation of uterus proteins at specific amino acids have a key role in the regulation of uterine activity in labor. It appears that the uterus remains relaxed during most of a pregnancy. It is not until labor that it contracts forcibly and pushes the baby toward its birth.

Hormones start labor off. But, biochemical changes allow the switch from relaxation to contraction and they are not fully understood. Therefore, it can’t be predicted when a woman will go into labor. About 10% of women deliver prematurely, at 37 weeks or less, and this causes complications for baby and mother. The induction of labor for medical reasons can also cause complications and is often unsuccessful.

Using small uterine tissue samples, researchers demonstrated that contractions require a calium dependent pathway driven by myosin kinase and a calcium independent pathway that regulated the activity of myosin phosphatase.

“The study has increased our understanding of the biochemical changes underlying uterine activity and may help in the design of better drugs to prevent preterm labor or to induce labor successfully at term, benefiting many thousands of women and their babies,” said Dr. Clair Hudson, of the School of Clinical Services at the University of Bristol.

Alterations in the uterine chemical equilibrium and its regulation by calcium can make the uterus more sensitive to oxytocin which triggers labor.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, University of Bristol


 
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