Objective: Degradation of the extracellular matrix in fetal membranes has been implicated in the process of parturition and rupture of membranes. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are enzymes capable of degrading extracellular matrix including collagen. Tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMPs) inhibit the activity of MMPs by covalently binding to the enzymes. MMP-2 degrades Type IV collagen and TIMP-2 is its specific inhibitor. The objective of this study was to determine if human parturition, rupture of membranes (term and preterm) and microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity (MIAC) are associated with changes in the concentrations of MMP-2 and TIMP-2 in amniotic fluid.
Study design: A cross-sectional study was conducted with women in the following categories: 1) term with intact membranes, in labor and not in labor; 2) preterm labor and intact membranes who delivered at term, who delivered preterm and preterm labor with MIAC; 3) preterm premature rupture of membranes (PROM) with and without infection; 4) term and preterm PROM not in labor; and 5) midtrimester. MMP-2 and TIMP-2 concentrations in amniotic fluid were determined using sensitive and specific immunoassays.
Results: The concentration of TIMP-2 increased with advancing gestational age (r = 0.6, p < 0.001). No correlation was found between MMP-2 concentrations and gestational age. Human parturition and rupture of membranes (term and preterm) and in patients with intact membranes were not associated with changes in the amniotic fluid MMP-2 concentrations. In contrast, 1) patients with spontaneous labor (term and preterm) had significantly lower median concentrations of TIMP-2 compared to those not in labor (p < 0.05 for both); 2) MIAC in women with preterm labor and preterm PROM was associated with a significant decrease in amniotic fluid TIMP-2 concentrations (p < 0.04 for both comparisons); 3) Rupture of the membranes (term and preterm)was also associated with a significant decrease in the amniotic fluid TIMP-2 concentrations (p < 0.05 and p < 0.03, respectively).
Conclusions: Human parturition (preterm and term), rupture of fetal membranes (term and preterm) and intraamniotic infection are associated with a significant decrease in amniotic fluid TIMP-2 concentrations.
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