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This article is part of the supplement: Proceedings of the First and Second European Workshops on Preterm Labour of the Special Non-Invasive Advances in Fetal and Neonatal Evaluation (SAFE) Network of Excellence

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PDE4 as a target in preterm labour

Céline Méhats12*, Thomas Schmitz123, Stéphanie Oger12, Roxane Hervé12, Dominique Cabrol123 and Marie-Josèphe Leroy12

Author Affiliations

1 Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, INSERM U767, F-75270 Paris cedex 06, France

2 Université Paris Descartes, F-75006 Paris, France

3 AP-HP, Hôpital Cochin, Maternité Port-Royal, F-75014 Paris, France

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2007, 7(Suppl 1):S12  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S12

Published: 1 June 2007


Cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases (PDE) are the enzymes catalyzing the hydrolysis and inactivation of the second messengers, cAMP and cGMP. Eleven PDE families are described to date, and selective inhibitors of some PDEs families are currently used in clinic for treating cardiovascular disorders, erectile dysfunction, and pulmonary hypertension. Isoforms of the PDE4 family are involved in smooth muscle contraction and inflammation. PDE4 selective inhibitors are currently in clinical trials for the treatment of diseases related to inflammatory disorders. Because of their myorelaxant properties, we first examined their expression in human myometrium and uncover an increased expression of one specific isoform, PDE4B2, in the near-term myometrium as compared to myometrium in the nonpregnant state. Using human myometrial cells in culture, we demonstrated that PDE4B2 can be induced by its own substrate, under the control of one of the major utero-contractile agonists, PGE2, itself upregulated by the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β. Functionally, augmentation of global PDE4 activity decreases the ability of β-adrenergic agonists (the most commonly used tocolytic drugs) to inhibit myometrial contraction at the end of pregnancy and during pathophysiological situations, such as persistent intrauterine inflammation which is a major cause of very preterm delivery. Currently exploring the anti-inflammatory properties of PDE4 inhibitors in gestational tissues, we recently demonstrated the ability of these drugs to block a persistent inflammatory response of the foetal membranes in Humans and to prevent inflammation-driven preterm delivery and foetal demise in mice. These data open up a new therapeutical strategy to prevent inflammation-induced preterm delivery and its sequelae in very preterm infants.