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J Proteomics. 2011 May 16;74(6):817-28. doi: 10.1016/j.jprot.2011.02.025. Epub 2011 Mar 23.

Protein profiling underscores immunological functions of uterine cervical mucus plug in human pregnancy.

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  • 1Perinatology Research Branch, NICHD/NIH/DHHS, Bethesda, Maryland, and Detroit, MI, USA.


The cervical mucus plug (CMP) differs from the cervical secretions of non-pregnant women, and is the ultimate sealant of the uterine cavity during pregnancy. Although several studies have analyzed biochemical properties of large glycoproteins in the CMP, comprehensive information about its protein composition is yet unavailable. We hypothesized that protein profiling of the CMP could provide key clues to its physiological functions in pregnancy. For this purpose, five CMPs obtained from women in labor at term were analyzed by LC-MS/MS. Out of 291 total proteins identified, 137 were detected in two or more samples, which included S100A8, S100A9, and complement proteins (C3, C4a, C4b, C6, and C8g). Several proteins, which have not been described in the cervical mucus of non-pregnant women or in cervicovaginal fluids, such as CD81 antigen and pregnancy zone protein, were also identified. Gene ontology analysis of identified proteins showed significant enrichment of 28 biological processes such as 'activation of plasma proteins involved in acute inflammatory response' and 'positive regulation of cholesterol esterification'. We report the proteome of CMPs from pregnant women at term for the first time, and the overall findings strongly suggest an important role for the CMP in the maintenance of pregnancy and parturition.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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