Human cervical ripening, an inflammatory process mediated by cytokines

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


An extensive remodelling process, referred to as cervical ripening, takes place in the cervical tissue during pregnancy and labour. It is recognized as softening and dilation of the cervical canal, and starts as a slow process during pregnancy, becoming rapid close to partum. In this study we focus on cytokines as possible mediators of this final remodelling. mRNA levels for interleukin (IL)-8, IL-6 and granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) were upregulated in the ripe postpartum cervical tissue (n = 8) compared to the unripe state (n = 9). Likewise, released cytokine concentrations increased from non-pregnant (n = 11) to the term-pregnant group (n = 13) with a further increase at partum (n = 16). IL-8 concentrations increased 4-fold from non-pregnant to term-pregnant (P<0.01), and a further 10-fold to postpartum state (P<0.0001). Concentrations of IL-6 and G-CSF were similarly increased. Specific IL-8 immunostaining was identified in the epithelia of pregnant cervical tissue (n = 7) and was most pronounced in the epithelia and stroma of postpartum tissue (n = 4). In conclusion, IL-8, IL-6 and G-CSF increase in the human cervix during the ripening process, indicating their important role in the cervical remodelling. These data demonstrate that cervical ripening is similar to an inflammatory process.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Medicine


  • Adult, Cervical Ripening, Cervix Uteri, Female, Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor, Humans, Interleukin-6, Interleukin-8, Middle Aged, Postpartum Period, Pregnancy, RNA, Messenger, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-81
Number of pages7
JournalMolecular Human Reproduction
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Apr
Publication categoryResearch