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Ratana Lim, Gillian Barker and Martha Lappas

Preterm birth is a prevalent cause of neonatal deaths worldwide. Inflammation has been implicated in spontaneous preterm birth involved in the processes of uterine contractility and membrane rupture. Parkinson protein 7 (PARK7) has been found to play an inflammatory role in non-gestational tissues. The aims of this study were to determine the expression of PARK7 in myometrium and fetal membranes with respect to term labour onset and to elucidate the effect of PARK7 silencing in primary myometrium and amnion cells on pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators. PARK7 mRNA expression was higher in term myometrium and fetal membranes from women in labour compared to non-labouring samples and in amnion from preterm deliveries with chorioamnionitis. In human primary myometrial cells transfected with PARK7 siRNA (siPARK7), there was a significant decrease in IL1B, TNF, fsl-1 and poly(I:C)-induced expression of pro-inflammatory cytokine IL6, chemokines (CXCL8, CCL2), adhesion molecule ICAM1, prostaglandin PGF and its receptor PTGFR. Similarly, amnion cells transfected with siPARK7 displayed a decrease in IL1B-induced expression of IL6, CXCL8 and ICAM1. In myometrial cells transfected with siPARK7, there was a significant reduction of NF-κB RELA transcriptional activity when stimulated with fsl-1, flagellin and poly(I:C), but not with IL1B or TNF. Collectively, our novel data describe a role for PARK7 in regulating inflammation-induced pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators in human myometrial and amnion cells.

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Stella Liong, Gillian Barker and Martha Lappas

Preeclampsia affects 5% of all pregnancies and is a serious disorder of pregnancy, characterised by high maternal blood pressure, placental hypoxia, fluid retention (oedema) and proteinuria. Women with preeclampsia are associated with exaggerated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines and anti-angiogenic factors such as soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase-1 (sFLT1). Studies in non-gestational tissues have described the bromodomain (BRD) and extraterminal family of proteins, in particular BRD4 to play a critical role in propagating inflammation and is currently a therapeutic target for treating cancer, lung inflammation and asthma. The aims of this study were to: (i) determine the effect of severe early-onset preeclampsia on placental BRD4 expression; (ii) the effect of loss of BRD4 function by siRNA-targeted knockdown or with the BRD inhibitor JQ1 in human primary trophoblast cells and human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) on TNF-stimulated production of pro-inflammatory mediators, cell adhesion molecules and anti-angiogenic markers and (iii) the effect of BRD4 suppression on placental sFLT1 secretion under hypoxia conditions and in preeclampic placenta. BRD4 mRNA expression was significantly increased (sevenfold) in severe early-onset preeclampsia placenta. BRD4 silencing resulted in a significant reduction in TNF-induced IL6, CXCL8, CCL2, CXCL1 and sFLT1-e15a mRNA expression and IL6, CXCL8, CCL2, CXCL1 and sFLT1 secretion in primary trophoblast and HUVECs. Additionally, JQ1 treatment significantly reduced placental sFLT1 secretion under hypoxic conditions and in preterm preeclamptic placenta. In conclusion, these findings suggest BRD4 may play a central role in propagating inflammation and endothelial dysfunction associated with the pathophysiology of early-onset preeclampsia.

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Ratana Lim, Gillian Barker and Martha Lappas

Preterm birth continues to be the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidities that can extend into adult life. Few treatment options stem from our incomplete understanding of the mechanisms of human labour and delivery. Activation of the inflammatory response in gestational tissues by inflammation and/or infection leads to the production of pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators, thus preterm birth. Interferon regulatory factor 5 (IRF5) has recently emerged as an important pro-inflammatory transcription factor involved in acute and chronic inflammation. The aims of this study were to determine the expression of IRF5 in human myometrium from labouring and non-labouring women, and whether IRF5 is involved in the genesis of pro-inflammatory and pro-labour mediators induced by pro-inflammatory cytokines or toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands. IRF5 mRNA and protein expression was significantly higher in human myometrium after spontaneous term labour, compared to non-labouring tissues. IRF5 mRNA expression was also significantly higher in primary myometrial cells treated with the pro-inflammatory cytokines IL1B or TNF. In primary myometrial cells, IRF5 knockdown by siRNA (siIRF5) was associated with significantly decreased expression and or secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL1A, IL6), chemokines (CXCL8, CCL2), adhesion molecules (ICAM1, VCAM1) and contraction-associated proteins PTGS2, PGF and PTGFR when in the presence of IL1B, TNF, fsl-1 (TLR2/6 ligand) or flagellin (TLR5 ligand). siIRF5-transfected cells also displayed decreased NF-κB RELA transcriptional activity in the presence of these preterm birth mediators. Our study suggests a novel role for IRF5 in the regulation of the inflammatory response in human myometrium.