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The objective of this study was to quantify the nuclear localization and DNA binding activity of p65, the major transactivating nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) subunit, in full-thickness fetal membranes (FM) and myometrium in the absence or presence of term or preterm labor.


Paired full-thickness FM and myometrial samples were collected from women in the following cohorts: preterm no labor (PNL, N = 22), spontaneous preterm labor (PTL, N = 21), term no labor (TNL, N = 23), and spontaneous term labor (STL, N = 21). NF-kappaB p65 localization was assessed by immunohistochemistry, and DNA binding activity was evaluated using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)-based method.


Nuclear p65 labeling was rare in amnion and chorion, irrespective of clinical context. In decidua, nuclear p65 labeling was greater in the STL group relative to the TNL cohort, but there were no differences among the TNL, PTL, and PNL cohorts. In myometrium, diffuse p65 nuclear labeling was significantly associated with both term and preterm labor. There were no significant differences in ELISA-based p65 binding activity in amnion, choriodecidual, and myometrial specimens in the absence or presence of term labor. However, parallel experiments using cultured term fetal membranes demonstrated high levels of p65-like binding even the absence of cytokine stimulation, suggesting that this assay may be of limited value when applied to tissue specimens.


These results suggest that the decidua is an important site of NF-kappaB regulation in fetal membranes, and that mechanisms other than cytoplasmic sequestration may limit NF-kappaB activation prior to term.


Maternal and Child Health | Obstetrics and Gynecology | Pathology | Women's Health