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1.  Overview. Preterm labour: mechanisms and management 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2007;7(Suppl 1):S2.
Preterm birth remains a major cause of perinatal mortality and long term handicap in surviving infants. This is one of the most important clinical problems in Europe and across the world. While some preterm births are iatrogenic, associated with severe complications of pregnancy (e.g. hypertensive disorders, antepartum haemorrhage, infection), or the result of multiple pregnancies following assisted reproduction, a high proportion of preterm births occur following spontaneous preterm labour of unknown cause. Early intervention in this group of women would have a significant impact on neonatal mortality and morbidity figures. However, the endocrine changes preceding parturition in women remain elusive and this makes it difficult to predict spontaneous labour at term, let alone preterm labour. Moreover our understanding of myometrial physiology remains rudimentary, limiting our options to devise improved pharmacological strategies to control uterine contractility when this is indicated. There is a need for concerted European and international research efforts to improve our knowledge of the mechanism of labour in women, to identify diagnostic markers to predict preterm labour and to develop uterine selective drugs to inhibit uterine contractions in a safe and efficient manner. This aim will be achieved by multidisciplinary research efforts from academics and industry, using traditional laboratory and clinical research methods, as well as novel technologies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S2
PMCID: PMC1892059  PMID: 17570162
2.  Cyclic AMP signalling pathways in the regulation of uterine relaxation 
BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth  2007;7(Suppl 1):S10.
Studying the mechanism(s) of uterine relaxation is important and will be helpful in the prevention of obstetric difficulties such as preterm labour, which remains a major cause of perinatal mortality and morbidity. Multiple signalling pathways regulate the balance between maintaining relative uterine quiescence during gestation, and the transition to the contractile state at the onset of parturition. Elevation of intracellular cyclic AMP promotes myometrial relaxation, and thus quiescence, via effects on multiple intracellular targets including calcium channels, potassium channels and myosin light chain kinase. A complete understanding of cAMP regulatory pathways (synthesis and hydrolysis) would assist in the development of better tocolytics to delay or inhibit preterm labour. Here we review the enzymes involved in cAMP homoeostasis (adenylyl cyclases and phosphodiesterases) and possible myometrial substrates for the cAMP dependent protein kinase. We must emphasise the need to identify novel pharmacological targets in human pregnant myometrium to achieve safe and selective uterine relaxation when this is indicated in preterm labour or other obstetric complications.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S10
PMCID: PMC1892051  PMID: 17570154

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