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Preview: Molecular Human Reproduction - current issue

MHR: Basic science of reproductive medicine Current Issue





Published: Tue, 18 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Mon, 05 Jun 2017 01:48:26 GMT

 



Resistance to apoptosis and autophagy leads to enhanced survival in Sertoli cells

2017-04-18

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONWhat is the underlying mechanism of Sertoli cell (SC) resistance to cell death?SUMMARY ANSWERHigh expression of prosurvival B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL2) proteins and inhibition of apoptosis and autophagy prolongs SC survival upon exposure to stress stimuli.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYIn human and in experimental models of orchitis, tolerogenic SC survive stress conditions, while germ cells undergo massive apoptosis. In general, non-dividing highly differentiated cells tend to resist stress conditions for a longer time by favoring activation of prosurvival mechanisms and inhibition of cell death pathways.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONIn this cross sectional study, conditions stimulating apoptosis and autophagy were used to induce cell death in primary rat SC. Primary rat peritubular cells (PTC) and immortalized rat 93RS2 SC were used as controls. Each cell isolation was counted as one experiment (n = 1), and each experiment was repeated three to six times.PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSTestis biopsy samples from infertile or subfertile patients and testis samples from rats with experimental autoimmune orchitis were used for immunohistological analysis. Primary SC were isolated from 19-day-old male Wistar rats. To maintain cell purity, cells were cultured in serum-free medium for apoptosis experiments and in medium supplemented with 1% serum for autophagy analyses. To induce apoptosis, cells were stimulated with staurosporine, borrelidin, cisplatin and etoposide for 4 or 24 h. Caspase three activation was examined by immunoblotting and enzymatic activity assay. Mitochondrial membrane potential was measured using tetramethylrhodamine methyl ester followed by flow cytometric analysis. Cytochrome c release was monitored by immunofluorescence. Cell viability was determined using the methylthiazole tetrazolium assay. To monitor autophagy flux, cells were deprived of nutrients using Hank's balanced salt solution for 1, 2 and 3 h. Formation of autophagosomes was analyzed by using immunoblotting, immunofluorescence labeling and ultrastructural analyses. Relative mRNA levels of genes involved in the regulation of apoptosis and autophagy were evaluated. Extracellular high mobility group box protein one was measured as a marker of necrosis using ELISA.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCESC survive the inflammatory conditions in vivo in human testis and in experimental autoimmune orchitis. Treatment with apoptosis inducing chemotherapeutics did not cause caspase three activation in isolated rat SC. Moreover, mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial localization of cytochrome c were not changed by treatment with staurosporine, suggesting a premitochondrial blockade of apoptosis in SC. Expression levels of prosurvival BCL2 family members were significantly higher in SC compared to PTC at both mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, after nutrient starvation, autophagy signaling was initiated in SC as observed by decreased levels of phosphorylated UNC- 51-like kinase -1 (ULK1). However, levels of light chain 3 II (LC3 II) and sequestosome1 (SQSTM1) remained unchanged, indicating blockade of the autophagy flux. Lysosomal activity was intact in SC as shown by accumulation of LC3 II following administration of lysosomal protease inhibitors, indicating that inhibition of autophagy flux occurs at a preceding stage.LARGE SCALE DATAN/A.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONIn this study, we have used primary SC from prepubertal rats. Caution should be taken when translating our results to adult animals, where crosstalk with other testicular cells and hormonal factors may also play a role in regulating survival of SC.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSOur results suggest that inhibition of autophagy and apoptosis following exposure to extrinsic stress stimuli promotes SC survival, and is a possible mechanism to explain the robustness of SC in response to stress. Cell death resistance in SC is crucial for the recovery of spermatogenesis after chemotherapy treatment in cancer patients. Additionally, understanding the molecular me[...]



In vivo intrabursal administration of bioactive lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate enhances vascular integrity in a rat model of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome

2017-04-18

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONCan the bioactive lipid sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P) act as an endothelial barrier-enhancing molecule and, in turn, restore the vascular integrity and homoeostasis in a rat model of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).STUDY ANSWERIn vivo administration of S1P may prevent the early onset of OHSS and decrease its severity.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYAlthough advances in the prediction and treatment of OHSS have been made, complete prevention has not been possible yet. S1P in follicular fluid from women at risk of developing OHSS are lower in comparison from women who are not at such risk and administration of S1P in an OHSS rat model decreases ovarian capillary permeability.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONWe used an animal model that develops OHSS in immature Sprague-Dawley rats. The rats were randomly divided into three groups: the control group, which was injected with 10 IU of pregnant mare's serum gonadotropin (PMSG), and 10 IU of hCG 48 h later; the OHSS group, which was injected with excessive doses of PMSG (50 IU/day) for four consecutive days, followed by hCG; and the OHSS + S1P group, which was injected with the same doses of PMSG and hCG as the OHSS group and then treated with 5 μl S1P (1 mM) under the bursa of both ovaries, whereas the other groups of animals received the S1P vehicle.PARTICIPANTS /MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSRats were killed by decapitation 48 h after the hCG injection for ovary, endometrium and blood collection. The ovaries were weighed and then used for subsequent assays, while the serum was used for hormone assays. One of the ovaries from each rat (n = 6) was used for Western immunoblot and the other for immunohistochemical analysis. Statistical comparisons between groups were carried out.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCES1P administration reduced the ovarian weight (P < 0.05), and decreased the concentration of serum progesterone in the OHSS group compared to the OHSS group without treatment (P < 0.001). The percentage of antral follicles in the OHSS group was lower than that in the control group. S1P increased the percentage of antral follicles (P < 0.05) and decreased the percentage of corpora lutea (P < 0.01) and cystic structures in the OHSS group (P < 0.05). S1P had no effect on the expression levels of the enzymes 3β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (3βHSD) or cholesterol side-chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc), but reduced the levels of steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) in OHSS rat ovaries (P < 0.05). S1P decreased the endothelial (P < 0.05) and periendothelial (P < 0.01) cell area in OHSS rat ovaries. S1P restored the levels of N-cadherin and VE-cadherin proteins to control values. Furthermore, S1P enhanced the levels of claudin-5, occludin (P < 0.05) and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 (S1PR1) in OHSS (P < 0.01). In addition, no histological differences were found in endometrium between OHSS and S1P-treated OHSS animals.LIMITATIONS REASONS FOR CAUTIONThe results of this study were generated from an in vivo OHSS experimental model, which has been used by several authors and our group due to the similarity between the rat and human angiogenic systems. Further studies in patients will be needed to evaluate the effects of S1P in the pathogenesis of OHSS.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSThese findings concern the pathophysiological importance of S1P in OHSS. More studies on the regulation of endothelial cell barrier function by S1P in reproductive pathological processes and its therapeutic application are required.LARGE SCALE DATAN/A.STUDY FUNDING AND COMPETING INTEREST(S)This work was supported by grants from ANPCyT (PICT 2012-897), CONICET (PIP 5471), Roemmers and Baron Foundations, Argentina. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.[...]



Identification and characterization of Aurora kinase B and C variants associated with maternal aneuploidy

2017-04-13

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONAre single nucleotide variants (SNVs) in Aurora kinases B and C (AURKB, AURKC) associated with risk of aneuploid conception?SUMMARY ANSWERTwo SNVs were found in patients with extreme aneuploid concepti rates with respect to their age; one variant, AURKC p.I79V, is benign, while another, AURKB p.L39P, is a potential gain-of-function mutant with increased efficiency in promoting chromosome alignment.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYMaternal age does not always predict aneuploidy risk, and rare gene variants can be drivers of disease. The AURKB and AURKC regulate chromosome segregation, and are associated with reproductive impairments in mouse and human.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONAn extreme phenotype sample selection scheme was performed for variant discovery. Ninety-six DNA samples were from young patients with higher than average embryonic aneuploidy rates and an additional 96 DNA samples were from older patients with lower than average aneuploidy rates.PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSUsing the192 DNA samples, the coding regions of AURKB and AURKC were sequenced using next generation sequencing. To assess biological significance, we expressed complementary RNA encoding the human variants in mouse oocytes. Assays such as determining subcellular localization and assessing catalytic activity were performed to determine alterations in protein function during meiosis.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCETen SNVs were identified using three independent variant-calling methods. Two of the SNVs (AURKB p.L39P and AURKC p.I79V) were non-synonymous and identified by at least two variant-identification methods. The variant encoding AURKC p.I79V, identified in a young woman with a higher than average rate of aneuploid embryos, showed wild-type localization pattern and catalytic activity. On the other hand, the variant encoding AURKB p.L39P, identified in an older woman with lower than average rates of aneuploid embryos, increased the protein’s ability to regulate alignment of chromosomes at the metaphase plate. These experiments were repeated three independent times using 2–3 mice for each trial.LARGE SCALE DATAN/A.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONBiological significance of the human variants was assessed in an in vitro mouse oocyte model where the variants are over-expressed. Therefore, the human protein may not function identically to the mouse homolog, or the same in mouse oocytes as in human oocytes. Furthermore, supraphysiological expression levels may not accurately reflect endogenous activity. Moreover, the evaluated variants were identified in one patient each, and no trial linking the SNV to pregnancy outcomes was conducted. Finally, the patient aneuploidy rates were established by performing comprehensive chromosome screening in blastocysts, and because of the link between female gamete aneuploidy giving rise to aneuploid embryos, we evaluate the role of the variants in Meiosis I. However, it is possible that the chromosome segregation mistake arose during Meiosis II or in mitosis in the preimplantation embryo. Their implications in human female meiosis and aneuploidy risk remain to be determined.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSThe data provide evidence that gene variants exist in reproductively younger or advanced aged women that are predictive of the risk of producing aneuploid concepti in humans. Furthermore, a single amino acid in the N-terminus of AURKB is a gain-of-function mutant that could be protective of euploidy.STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTSThis work was supported by a Research Grant from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and support from the Charles and Johanna Busch Memorial Fund at Rutgers, the State University of NJ to K.S. and the Foundation for Embryonic Competence, Inc to N.T. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.[...]



Impact of male fertility status on the transcriptome of the bovine epididymis

2017-04-07

Abstract
STUDY QUESTION
Can region-specific transcriptional profiling of the epididymis from fertile and sub-fertile bulls predict the etiology of fertility/sub-fertility in males?
SUMMARY ANSWER
The highly regulated gene expression along the bovine epididymis is affected by the fertility status of bulls used for artificial insemination.
WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY
In mammals, sperm maturation and storage occur in the epididymis. Each epididymal segment has his own transcriptomic signature that modulates the intraluminal composition and consequently governs sequential modifications of the maturing male gamete.
STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION
Epididymides from six Holstein bulls with documented fertility were used. These bulls were divided into two groups: high fertility (n = 3), and medium–low fertility (n = 3) and their epididymal transcriptomic profiles were analyzed.
PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS
Bovine cDNA microarray probing and bioinformatic tools were used to identify genes that are differentially expressed in caput, corpus and cauda epididymidal tissues of bulls with the documented fertility index.
MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE
Hierarchical clustering and principal component analysis revealed a clear separation between caput, corpus and cauda epididymides. Some transcripts characterize a particular anatomical segment, whereas others are expressed in two out of three epididymal segments. Gene ontology analysis allowed deduction of specific functions played by each epididymal segment. The transcriptional profiles between fertile versus sub-fertile conditions clustered most closely in the corpus and cauda segments, whereas the profiles in the caput segment were distinct between fertile and sub-fertile bulls. Of the differently expressed genes, 10 (AKAP4, SMCP, SPATA3, TCP11, ODF1, CTCFL, SPATA18, ADAM28, SORD and FAM161A) were found to exert functions related to reproductive systems and 5 genes (DEAD, CYST11, DEFB119, DEFB124 and MX1) were found to be associated with the defense response.
LARGE SCALE DATA
The GEO number for public access of bovine epididymis microarray data is GSE96602.
LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION
Further work is required to link these modulations of epididymal functions with sperm fertilizing ability in order to understand the etiology of certain cases of idiopathic infertility in livestock and men.
WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS
As fertility can be quantified in bulls used for artificial insemination, this species is a unique model to aid in the understanding of male fertility/sub-fertility in man. Our data provide a molecular characterization that will facilitate advances in understanding the involvement of epididymal physiology in sub/infertility etiology.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)
This work was supported by a grant to R.S. from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada. C.L., A.A., E.C. and R.S. have no conflict of interest to declare. P.B. is R&D director at Alliance Boviteq Inc., a bovine artificial insemination company.



Further insights into the impact of mouse follicle stage on graft outcome in an artificial ovary environment

2017-03-28

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONAre mouse preantral follicles differently affected by isolation, encapsulation and/or grafting procedures according to stage?SUMMARY ANSWERIsolated secondary follicles showed superior ability to survive and grow after transplantation, which was not related to a particular effect of the isolation and/or grafting procedure, but rather to their own ability to induce neoangiogenesis.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYIsolated and encapsulated mouse preantral follicles can survive (6–27%) and grow (80–100%) in a fibrin matrix with a low concentration of fibrinogen and thrombin (F12.5/T1) after short-term transplantation.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONAn in vivo experimental model using 20 donor Naval Medical Research Institute (NMRI) mice (6–25 weeks of age) and 14 recipient severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) mice (11–39 weeks of age) was applied. Each NMRI mouse underwent mechanical disruption of both ovaries and isolation of primordial–primary and secondary follicles with ovarian stromal cells, in order to encapsulate them in an F12.5/T1 matrix. Twelve out of 40 fibrin clots were immediately fixed as controls (D0) (10 for histology and 2 for scanning electron microscopy [SEM]) and the others (n = 28) were grafted to the inner part of the peritoneum for 2 (16 fibrin clots) or 7 (12 fibrin clots) days (D2 and D7).PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSThis study involved the participation of the Gynecology Research Unit (Universitè Catholique de Louvain) and the Physiological Sciences Department (University of Brasília). Specific techniques were used to analyze the follicle recovery rate (hematoxylin–eosin staining), vascularization (CD34) and follicle ultrastructure (transmission electron microscopy [TEM] and SEM).MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEAfter follicle isolation and encapsulation, a statistically higher percentage of normal follicles was observed in the secondary group (62%) than in the primordial–primary group (47%). Follicle recovery rates were 34% and 62% for primordial–primary and secondary follicles on D2, respectively, and 12% and 42% on D7, confirming that secondary follicles survive better than primordial–primary follicles after grafting. Concerning vascularization, both follicle stages exhibited similar vascularization to that seen in control mouse ovary on D7, but a significantly higher number of vessels and greater vessel surface area were detected in the secondary follicle group. Despite structural differences in fiber density between fibrin clots and ovarian tissue observed by SEM and TEM, preantral follicles appeared to be well encapsulated in the matrix, also showing a normal ultrastructure after grafting.LARGE SCALE DATANot applicable.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONAs demonstrated by our results during the isolation procedure, we encapsulated a significantly higher number of round structures in the primordial–primary group than in the secondary group, which could partially explain the lower recovery rate of early-stage follicles in our previous study. However, it is not excluded that the physical and mechanical properties of the fibrin matrix may also play a role in follicle survival and growth, so further investigations are needed.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSThis research represents one more key step in the creation of the artificial ovary.STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)This study was supported by grants from the Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique de Belgique (FNRS) to C.A. Amorim as a research associate at FRS-FNRS and (grant 5/4/150/5 awarded to M.M. Dolmans), Fonds Spéciaux de Recherche, Fondation St Luc, Foundation Against Cancer, Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES—Brazil) (grant #013/14 CAPES/WBI awarded to C.M. Lucci, with F. Paulini receiving a post-doctoral fellowship), and Wallonie-Bruxelles International, and donations from the Ferrero family. None of the authors have any competing interest[...]



hCG activates Epac-Erk1/2 signaling regulating Progesterone Receptor expression and function in human endometrial stromal cells

2017-03-28

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONHow does hCG signal in human endometrial stromal cells (ESCs) and what is its role in regulating ESC function?SUMMARY ANSWERhCG signaling in ESCs activates the extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (Erk1/2) pathway through exchange protein activated by cyclic AMP (cAMP) (Epac) and transiently increases progesterone receptor (PR) transcript and protein expression and its transcriptional function.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYhCG is one of the earliest embryo-derived secreted signals in the endometrium, which abundantly expresses LH/hCG receptors. hCG signals through cAMP/protein kinase A (PKA) in gonadal cells, but in endometrial epithelial cells, hCG induces Erk1/2 activation independent of the cAMP/PKA pathway. Few data exist concerning the signal transduction pathways triggered by hCG in ESCs and their role in regulation of ESC function.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONThis is an in vitro study comprising patients undergoing benign gynecological surgery (n = 46).PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODSEndometrial samples were collected from normal cycling women during the mid-secretory phase for ESCs isolation. The study conducted in an academic research laboratory within a tertiary-care hospital. The activation of the Erk1/2 signal transduction pathway elicited by hCG was evaluated in ESC. Signaling pathway inhibitors were used to examine the roles of PKA, PI3K, PKC, adenylyl cyclase and Epac on the hCG-stimulated up-regulation of phospho-Erk1/2 (pErk1/2). Erk1/2 phosphorylation was determined by immunoblot. siRNA targeting Epac was used to investigate the molecular mechanisms. To assess the role of Erk1/2 signaling induced by hCG on ESC function, gene expression regulation was examined by immunofluorescence and real-time quantitative PCR. The role of PR on the regulation of transcript levels was studied using progesterone and the PR antagonist RU486. All experiments were conducted using at least three different cell culture preparations in triplicate.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEAddition of hCG to ESCs in vitro induced the phosphorylation of Erk1/2 through cAMP accumulation. Such induction could not be blocked by inhibitors for PKA, PKC and PI3K. Epac inhibition and knockdown with siRNA prevented pErk1/2 induction by hCG. ESCs stimulated with hCG for up to 72 h showed a significant increase in PR mRNA and immunofluorescent label at 48 h only; an effect that was abrogated with the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase inhibitor UO126. In addition, the hCG-activated Erk1/2 pathway significantly decreased the mRNA levels for secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4) at 24 h, whereas it increased those for homeobox A10 (HOXA10) at 48 h (P = 0.041 and P = 0.022 versus control, respectively). Prolactin mRNA levels were not significantly modified. HOXA10 mRNA up-regulation by hCG was not enhanced by co-stimulation with progesterone; however, it was completely abolished in the presence of RU486 (P = 0.036 hCG versus hCG + RU486).LARGE SCALE DATAN/A.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONThis is an in vitro study utilizing stromal cell cultures from human endometrial tissues. Furthermore, results obtained should also be confirmed in vivo in the context of the whole human endometrial tissue and hormonal milieu. The in vitro experiments using hCG have been conducted without other hormones/factors that may also modulate the ESCs response to hCG.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSWe have determined that hCG induces the PR through the Erk1/2 pathway in ESCs which may render them more sensitive to progesterone, increasing our understanding about the effects of hCG at the embryo–maternal interface. The activation of such a pathway in the context of the hormonal milieu during the window of implantation might contribute to a successful dialog between the embryo and the uterus, leading to appropriate endometrial function. Defective hCG signaling in the endometrial stromal [...]



Inhibition of PIM1 kinase attenuates inflammation-induced pro-labour mediators in human foetal membranes in vitro

2017-03-28

AbstractSTUDY QUESTIONDoes proviral integration site for Moloney murine leukaemic virus (PIM)1 kinase play a role in regulating the inflammatory processes of human labour and delivery?SUMMARY ANSWERPIM1 kinase plays a critical role in foetal membranes in regulating pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators.WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADYInfection and inflammation have strong causal links to preterm delivery by stimulating pro-inflammatory cytokines and collagen degrading enzymes, which can lead to rupture of membranes. PIM1 has been shown to have a role in immune regulation and inflammation in non-gestational tissues; however, its role has not been explored in the field of human labour.STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATIONPIM1 expression was analysed in myometrium and/or foetal membranes obtained at term and preterm (n = 8–9 patients per group). Foetal membranes, freshly isolated amnion cells and primary myometrial cells were used to investigate the effect of PIM1 inhibition on pro-labour mediators (n = 5 patients per treatment group).PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING AND METHODSFoetal membranes, from term and preterm, were obtained from non-labouring and labouring women, and from preterm pre-labour rupture of membranes (PPROM) (n = 9 per group). Amnion was collected from women with and without preterm chorioamnionitis (n = 8 per group). Expression of PIM1 kinase was determined by qRT-PCR and western blotting. To determine the effect of PIM1 kinase inhibition on the expression of pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators induced by bacterial products lipopolysaccharide (LPS) (10 μg/ml) and flagellin (1 μg/ml) and pro-inflammatory cytokine tumour necrosis factor (TNF) (10 ng/ml), chemical inhibitors SMI-4a (20 μM) and AZD1208 (50 μM) were used in foetal membrane explants and siRNA against PIM1 was used in primary amnion cells. Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCEPIM1 expression was significantly increased in foetal membranes after spontaneous term labour compared to no labour at term and in amnion with preterm chorioamnionitis compared to preterm with no chorioamnionitis. There was no change in PIM1 expression with preterm labour or PPROM compared to preterm with no labour or PPROM. In human foetal membranes, PIM1 inhibitors SMI-4a and AZD1208 significantly decreased the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL6) and chemokines CXCL8 and CCL2 mRNA and release, prostaglandin prostaglandin F2α (PGF2α) release, adhesion molecule intercellular adhesion molecule 1 mRNA expression and release, and oxidative stress marker 8-isoprostane release after stimulation with either LPS or flagellin. Primary amnion cells transfected with PIM1 siRNA also showed decreased expression of IL6, CXCL8 and CCL2, PTGS2 mRNA and PGF2α release, and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) expression, when stimulated with TNF.LARGE SCALE DATANone.LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTIONThe conclusions were drawn from in vitro experiments using foetal membrane explants and primary cells isolated from amnion. Animal models are necessary to determine whether PIM1 kinase inhibitors can prevent spontaneous preterm birth in vivo.WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGSPIM1 kinase inhibitors may provide a novel therapeutic approach for preventing spontaneous preterm birth.STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)Associate Professor Martha Lappas is supported by a Career Development Fellowship from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC; grant no. 1047025). Funding for this study was provided by the NHMRC (grant no. 1058786), Norman Beischer Medical Research Foundation and the Mercy Research Foundation. The authors have no conflict of interest.[...]