Collagen changes in rat cervix in pregnancy--polarized light microscopic and electron microscopic studies.
The structural arrangement of collagen fibers in cervical ripening was studied in normal pregnant rats by picrosirius red staining and polarized light microscopy. The macromolecular arrangement of collagen fibers in the cervices of nonpregnant controls and in firm and rigid cervices of rats in early pregnancy (1-10 days of gestation) were optically anisotropic and had birefringence and a positive sign of elongation when examined by polarized light microscopy. The findings indicated that the structure of these collagen fibers was assembled from well-packed parallel collagen molecules. The direction of fibrous formation was arranged with regularity. In contrast, most of the collagen fibers in the soft cervices were optically isotropic. The fibers were fragmented and had a structure with discontinuous birefringence. Disarray and disorientation of the collagen fibers was found in the soft cervices. These collagen fibers changed their direction of formation. The disorganization of these collagen fibers might have a major impact on weakening the tensile strength of the cervix. Thus, we conclude that the processes of rearrangement of collagen fibers might be an important process in the cervical ripening. Electron microscopic studies suggest that in the focal hydrolytic processes of collagen and other matrix components degradation by lysosomal and phagosomal vesicles were associated with atrophic smooth muscle cells and fibroblasts of the cervices. Hydrolases released from lysosomes from these apoptotic cells may presumably be one of the processes in the remodeling of collagen structure.
Yu, SY; Tozzi, CA; Babiarz, J; Leppert, PC
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