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J Reprod Immunol. 2002 Oct-Nov;57(1-2):217-24.

Inflammatory mediators and cervical ripening.

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Centre for Reproductive Biology, Human Reproductive Sciences Unit, Medical Research Council, University of Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.


The mechanisms which soften the cervix and allow it to dilate at birth are not well known. This is a crucial element in labour and current pharmacological approaches, largely the use of prostaglandins (PG), are only semi-selective for the cervix and can cause inappropriate myometrial contractions. Cervical ripening is accompanied by the influx of neutrophils, the neutrophil is a ready source of collagenase, and the cervix is dependent on collagen for its rigidity. Thus it is important to study factors controlling neutrophil influx into the cervix at term. PGE and interleukin-8 (IL-8, or neutrophil chemotactic factor) work synergistically in inducing neutrophil influx into tissue. Activating this type of synergy, between a vasoactive and a chemotactic agent is likely to be the physiological mechanism for inducing cervical ripening. Future approaches to control the cervix are likely to exploit these pathways and lead to more effective and acceptable methods for inducing labour.

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