Exosome-Based Studies May Improve Understanding of Signals Triggering Labor and Delivery Process

In a normal full-term pregnancy, signals from the mature organs of the fetus and the aging placental membranes and placenta prompt the uterus' muscular walls to begin the labor and delivery process. It's still unclear how these signals accomplish this goal or how they reach from the fetal side to the maternal side. A team from The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) at Galveston has unlocked key clues in understanding what triggers the birthing process, according to research findings recently published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. The article is titled “Amnion-Epithelial-Cell-Derived Exosomes Demonstrate Physiologic State of Cell under Oxidative Stress.” "It's important that we gain a better understanding of how these signals interact and work in normal full-term pregnancies because it can provide insights into how and why these signals activate too early and trigger the labor and delivery process prematurely," said lead author and UTMB Assistant Professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ramkumar Menon, Ph.D. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, or before 37 weeks of pregnancy, each year. Complications from preterm birth are the chief cause of death among children under five. UTMB researchers studied the production and movement of exosomes, which are a specific type of molecular container that transports chemical signals between cells. The exosomes in question for this study came from amnion epithelial cells (AECs), which come from the inner lining of the placenta that forms the uterine cavity and is close to the growing fetus. This tissue protects the fetus during its uterine growth.
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