Tensile Mechanical Properties and Dynamic Collagen Fiber Re-Alignment of the Murine Cervix are Dramatically Altered Throughout Pregnancy

J Biomech Eng. 2017 Jun 1;139(6):0610081-0610087. doi: 10.1115/1.4036473.

Abstract

The cervix is a unique organ able to dramatically change its shape and function by serving as a physical barrier for the growing fetus and then undergoing dramatic dilation allowing for delivery of a term infant. As a result, the cervix endures changing mechanical forces from the growing fetus. There is an emerging concept that the cervix may change or remodel "early" in many cases of spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB). However, the mechanical role of the cervix in both normal and preterm birth remains unclear. Therefore, the primary objective of this study was to determine the mechanical and structural responses of murine cervical tissue throughout a normal gestational time course. In this study, both tissue structural and material properties were determined via a quasi-static tensile load-to-failure test, while simultaneously obtaining dynamic collagen fiber re-alignment via cross-polarization imaging. This study demonstrated that the majority of the mechanical properties evaluated decreased at midgestation and not just at term, while collagen fiber re-alignment occurred earlier in the loading curve for cervices at term. This suggests that although structural changes in the cervix occur throughout gestation, the differences in material properties function in combination with collagen fiber re-alignment as mechanical precursors to regulate term gestation. This work lays a foundation for investigating cervical biomechanics and the role of the cervix in preterm birth.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Cervix Uteri / cytology
  • Cervix Uteri / metabolism*
  • Collagen / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Materials Testing
  • Mice
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Tensile Strength*

Substances

  • Collagen