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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013, Article ID 316146, 10 pages
Research Article

Effect of Supracervical Apposition and Spontaneous Labour on Apoptosis and Matrix Metalloproteinases in Human Fetal Membranes

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne and Mercy Perinatal, Mercy Hospital for Women, Level 4/163 Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia
2Research Centre, Mercy Hospital for Women, Heidelberg, VIC 3084, Australia
3UQ Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, QLD 4029, Australia

Received 2 April 2013; Revised 1 August 2013; Accepted 1 August 2013

Academic Editor: Nadia Alfaidy

Copyright © 2013 Mahalia Chai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Apoptosis and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-9) are capable of hydrolysing components of the extracellular matrix and weakening the fetal membranes which leads to eventual rupture, a key process of human parturition. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of supracervical apposition and spontaneous labour on apoptosis and MMP-9 in human fetal membranes at term. Methods. Fetal membranes were obtained from term non-labouring supracervical site (SCS) and compared to (i) a paired distal site (DS) or (ii) site of rupture (SOR) after spontaneous labour onset. Results. The expression of the proapoptotic markers Bax, Smac, Fas, FasL, caspase-3, and PARP, was significantly higher in the non-labouring SCS chorion compared to paired DS. Bax, Smac, FasL, caspase-3, and PARP staining was higher in the non-labouring SCS fetal membranes than that in the post-labour SOR. MMP-9 expression and activity were higher in the post-labour SOR fetal membranes compared to non-labouring SCS fetal membranes. Conclusion. Components of the apoptotic signalling pathways and MMP-9 may play a role in rupture and labour. Non-labouring SCS fetal membranes display altered morphology and altered apoptotic biochemical characteristics in preparation for labour, while the laboured SOR displays unique MMP characteristics.