Research ArticleReproductive Biology

Phosphorylation of STAT3 mediates the induction of cyclooxygenase-2 by cortisol in the human amnion at parturition

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Science Signaling  27 Oct 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 400, pp. ra106
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac6151

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Labor, STAT!

The glucocorticoid cortisol has anti-inflammatory effects in many tissues of the body. However, in fetal membranes during labor, cortisol is associated with increased activity of the inflammatory enzyme COX-2, which produces prostaglandins that promote reproductive smooth muscle changes in the mother that enable delivery. Using primary human amnion fibroblasts from full-term births from patients who delivered after active labor or through nonlabor cesarean sections, Wang et al. found that the interaction of the glucocorticoid receptor and the transcription factor STAT3 at the gene encoding COX-2 mediates an autocrine feed-forward loop that amplifies cortisol-triggered prostaglandin production. The findings identify a mechanism linking cortisol to inflammatory prostaglandin production in the amnion.