Role of Notch signaling during lipopolysaccharide-induced preterm labor

J Leukoc Biol. 2016 Aug;100(2):261-74. doi: 10.1189/jlb.3HI0515-200RR. Epub 2015 Sep 15.


Notch signaling pathways exert effects throughout pregnancy and are activated in response to TLR ligands. To investigate the role of Notch signaling in preterm labor, Notch receptors (Notch1-4), its ligand Delta-like protein-1, transcriptional repressor hairy and enhancer of split-1, and Notch deregulator Numb were assessed. Preterm labor was initiated on gestation d 14.5 by 1 of 2 methods: 1) inflammation-induced preterm labor: intrauterine injection of LPS (a TLR4 agonist) and 2) hormonally induced preterm labor: subcutaneous injection of mifepristone. Delta-like protein-1, Notch1, and hairy and enhancer of split-1 were elevated significantly, and Numb was decreased in the uterus and placenta of inflammation-induced preterm labor mice but remained unchanged in hormonally induced preterm labor compared with their respective controls. F4/80(+) macrophage polarization was skewed in the uterus of inflammation-induced preterm labor toward M1-positive (CD11c(+)) and double-positive [CD11c(+) (M1) and CD206(+) (M2)] cells. This process is dependent on activation of Notch signaling, as shown by suppression of M1 and M2 macrophage-associated cytokines in decidual macrophages in response to γ-secretase inhibitor (an inhibitor of Notch receptor processing) treatment ex vivo. γ-Secretase inhibitor treatment also diminished the LPS-induced secretion of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in decidual and placental cells cultured ex vivo. Furthermore, treatment with recombinant Delta-like protein-1 ligand enhanced the LPS-induced proinflammatory response. Notch ligands (Jagged 1 and 2 and Delta-like protein-4) and vascular endothelial growth factor and its receptor involved in angiogenesis were reduced significantly in the uterus and placenta during inflammation-induced preterm labor. These results suggest that up-regulation of Notch-related inflammation and down-regulation of angiogenesis factors may be associated with inflammation-induced preterm labor but not with hormonally induced preterm labor.

Keywords: DLL-1 ligand; angiogenesis; inflammation; macrophage polarization; mifepristone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Decidua / drug effects
  • Decidua / metabolism
  • Decidua / pathology*
  • Female
  • Inflammation / chemically induced
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Lipopolysaccharides / toxicity*
  • Macrophages / drug effects
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / chemically induced
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / metabolism
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / pathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Receptors, Notch