Cervical hyaluronan biology in pregnancy, parturition and preterm birth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Cervical hyaluronan (HA) synthesis is robustly induced in late pregnancy in numerous species including women and mice. Recent evidence highlights the diverse and dynamic functions of HA in cervical biology that stem from its expression in the cervical stroma, epithelia and immune cells, changes in HA molecular weight and cell specific expression of HA binding partners. Mice deficient in HA in the lower reproductive tract confirm a structural role of HA to increase spacing and disorganization of fibrillar collagen, though this function is not critical for pregnancy and parturition. In addition, cervical HA depletion via targeted deletion of HA synthase genes, disrupts cell signaling required for the differentiation of epithelia and their mucosal and junctional barrier, resulting in increased susceptibility to ascending infection-mediated preterm birth. Finally the generation of HA disaccharides by bacterial hyaluronidases as made by Group B streptococcus can ligate toll like receptors TLR2/4 thus preventing appropriate inflammatory responses as needed to fight ascending infection and preterm birth. This review summarizes our current understanding of HA's novel and unique roles in cervical remodeling in the process of birth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-31
Number of pages8
JournalMatrix Biology
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Ascending infection
  • Cervical ripening
  • Cervix
  • Hyaluronan
  • Parturition
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology


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