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Professor Andres Lopez Bernal

Endocrinology of human parturition. Prevention of preterm labour

My research concerns the adaptation of the human uterus to pregnancy and the prevention of prematurity. Preterm labour is the major cause of perinatal mortality and neurological disability in the surviving infants, but it is difficult to predict and manage. Current medication for preterm labour is inefficient or has serious maternal or fetal side effects. I have focused on the study of the neurohypophyseal hormone oxytocin and inflammatory lipid mediators including prostaglandins in the control of uterine activity. Moreover, in order to predict preterm labour and identify women at risk, I am studying potential biomarkers among proteins, peptides and other molecules released from the feto-placental unit into the maternal circulation. We have established novel functional methods in uterine smooth muscle (myometrium) combining contractility measurements with identification of specific phosphorylated residues in key contractile proteins. My research will lead to better understanding of the mechanism of parturition in women, and provide new approaches for pharmacological intervention in preterm labour and better methods for induction and augmentation of labour.

Calcium waves in human myometrial cells simulated with oxytocin

Research keywords

  • human parturition
  • preterm labour
  • uterine function
  • oxytocin receptor
  • myometrial smooth muscle

Processes and functions relevant to this work

  • Endocrinology of pregnancy