Decreased elastic fibers and desmosine content in incompetent cervix.
Incompetence of the uterine cervix is a syndrome of painless, progressive dilatation and effacement occurring between the sixteenth and twenty-fourth weeks of gestation that represents abnormal functioning. It may serve as a model to elucidate normal function. Because the incompetent cervix results in painless opening of this organ without uterine contraction before term gestation, it is considered one of the causes of midtrimester spontaneous abortion, habitual spontaneous abortion, and early preterm labor. Untreated, it leads to rapid expulsion and often death of the fetus. We used light microscopy to compare decreased elastic fibers in incompetent cervices with those of normal nonpregnant and pregnant cervices. Morphologic analysis of this difference was extended to biochemical quantification of elastin content in one patient with cervical incompetence. The decrease in elastin suggests that one function of cervical elastin may be to maintain a closed and undilated cervix throughout gestation. There may be a relationship between changes in cross-linked elastin and the incompetent cervix; further studies are therefore indicated.
Leppert, PC; Yu, SY; Keller, S; Cerreta, J; Mandl, I
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