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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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Functional genomics of the pregnant uterus: from expectations to reality, a compilation of studies in the myometrium

Michèle Breuiller-Fouche1, Gilles Charpigny2 and Guy Germain2*

Author Affiliations

1 INSERM, U 767, Paris, F-75014, France

2 INRA, UMR 1198; ENVA; CNRS, FRE 2857, Biologie du Développement et Reproduction, Jouy en Josas, F-78350, France

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BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 2007, 7(Suppl 1):S4  doi:10.1186/1471-2393-7-S1-S4

Published: 1 June 2007



Studies on the human myometrium have reported on different microarrays containing different sets of genes or ESTs. However each study profiled only a small number of patients due to various constraints. More profiling information would be an addition to our knowledge base of parturition.


We compiled from five human studies, transcriptional differences between the non pregnant myometrium (NP), preterm myometrium (PTNIL), term myometrium not in labor (TNIL) and term myometrium in labor (TIL). Software modules developed by the Draghici's group at Wayne State University (Detroit, MI, USA) were used to propose a hierarchical list of several KEGG pathways most likely adjusted to changes observed in microarray experiments.


The differential expression of 118 genes could be dispatched in 14 main KEGG pathways that were the most representative of the changes seen in NP and PTNIL, versus TNIL or TIL. Despite the potential of multiple pitfalls inherent to the use of the microarray technology, gene module analysis of the myometrial transcriptome reveals the activation of precise signaling pathways, some of which may have been under evaluated.


The remodelling and maturation processes that the uterus undergoes in pregnancy appear clearly as phenomena which last during the full course of gestation. It is attested by the nature of the main signaling pathways represented, in the comparison of the PTNIL versus TNIL uterus. Comparatively, the onset of labor is a phenomenon which remains less well characterized by these methods of analysis, possibly because it is a phenomenon occurring in too short a window to have been grasped by the studies carried out up to now.