The Role of Biaxial Loading on Smooth Muscle Contractility in the Nulliparous Murine Cervix

Cassandra K. Conway, Asha Varghese, Mala Mahendroo, Kristin S. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Throughout the estrus cycle, the extracellular matrix (ECM) and cervical smooth muscle cells (cSMC) coordinate to accomplish normal physiologic function in the non-pregnant cervix. While previous uniaxial experiments provide fundamental knowledge about cervical contractility and biomechanics, the specimen preparation is disruptive to native organ geometry and does not permit simultaneous assessment of circumferential and axial properties. Thus, a need remains to investigate cervical contractility and passive biomechanics within physiologic multiaxial loading. Biaxial inflation-extension experiments overcome these limitations by preserving geometry, ECM–cell interactions, and multiaxially loading the cervix. Utilizing in vivo pressure measurements and inflation-extension testing, this study presented methodology and examined maximum biaxial contractility and biomechanics in the nulliparous murine cervix. The study showed that increased pressure resulted in decreased contractile potential in the circumferential direction, however, axial contractility remained unaffected. Additionally, total change in axial stress (Δ Tzz) increased significantly (p < 0.05) compared to circumferential stress (Δ Tθθ) with maximum contraction. However, passive stiffness was significantly greater (p < 0.01) in the circumferential direction. Overall, axial cSMC may have a critical function in maintaining cervical homeostasis during normal function. Potentially, a loss of axial contractility in the cervix during pregnancy may result in maladaptive remodeling such as cervical insufficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1874-1887
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of biomedical engineering
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Biomechanics
  • Cervix
  • Contractility
  • Reproductive Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering


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