Reproduction (Cambridge, England)

A novel role for GSK3 in the regulation of the processes of human labour.

PMID 25550525


Preterm birth remains the largest single cause of neonatal death and morbidity. Infection and/or inflammation are strongly associated with preterm delivery. Glycogen synthase kinase 3 (GSK3) is known to be a crucial mediator of inflammation homeostasis. The aims of this study were to determine the effect of spontaneous human labour in foetal membranes and myometrium on GSK3α/β expression, and the effect of inhibition of GSK3α/β on pro-labour mediators in foetal membranes and myometrium stimulated with Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and pro-inflammatory cytokines. Term and preterm labour in foetal membranes was associated with significantly decreased serine phosphorylated GSK3α and β expression, and thus increased GSK3 activity. There was no effect of term labour on serine phosphorylated GSK3β expression in myometrium. The specific GSK3α/β inhibitor CHIR99021 significantly decreased lipopolysaccharide (ligand to TLR4)-stimulated pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression and release; COX2 gene expression and prostaglandin release; and MMP9 gene expression and pro MMP9 release in foetal membranes and/or myometrium. CHIR99021 also decreased FSL1 (TLR2 ligand) and flagellin (TLR5 ligand)-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine gene expression and release and COX2 mRNA expression and prostaglandin release. GSK3β siRNA knockdown in primary myometrial cells was associated with a significant decrease in IL1β and TNFα-induced pro-inflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin release. In conclusion, GSK3α/β activity is increased in foetal membranes after term and preterm labour. Pharmacological blockade of the kinase GSK3 markedly reduced pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators in human foetal membranes and myometrium, providing a possible therapeutics for the management of preterm labour.