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Open Access Research article

Identification of a myometrial molecular profile for dystocic labor

Donal J Brennan12, Sharon F McGee2, Elton Rexhepaj2, Darran P O'Connor2, Michael Robson1 and Colm O'Herlihy3*

Author Affiliations

1 National Maternity Hospital, Dublin , Ireland

2 UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway Institute, Dublin , Ireland

3 UCD School of Medicine and Medical Science, Dublin, Ireland

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2011, 11:74  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-11-74

Published: 16 October 2011



The most common indication for cesarean section (CS) in nulliparous women is dystocia secondary to ineffective myometrial contractility. The aim of this study was to identify a molecular profile in myometrium associated with dystocic labor.


Myometrial biopsies were obtained from the upper incisional margins of nulliparous women undergoing lower segment CS for dystocia (n = 4) and control women undergoing CS in the second stage who had demonstrated efficient uterine action during the first stage of labor (n = 4). All patients were in spontaneous (non-induced) labor and had received intrapartum oxytocin to accelerate labor. RNA was extracted from biopsies and hybridized to Affymetrix HuGene U133A Plus 2 microarrays. Internal validation was performed using quantitative SYBR Green Real-Time PCR.


Seventy genes were differentially expressed between the two groups. 58 genes were down-regulated in the dystocia group. Gene ontology analysis revealed 12 of the 58 down-regulated genes were involved in the immune response. These included (ERAP2, (8.67 fold change (FC)) HLA-DQB1 (7.88 FC) CD28 (2.60 FC), LILRA3 (2.87 FC) and TGFBR3 (2.1 FC)) Hierarchical clustering demonstrated a difference in global gene expression patterns between the samples from dystocic and non-dystocic labours. RT-PCR validation was performed on 4 genes ERAP2, CD28, LILRA3 and TGFBR3


These findings suggest an underlying molecular basis for dystocia in nulliparous women in spontaneous labor. Differentially expressed genes suggest an important role for the immune response in dystocic labor and may provide important indicators for new diagnostic assays and potential intrapartum therapeutic targets.