The induction of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in intact human amnion tissue by interleukin-4

Prostaglandins. 1996 Mar;51(3):215-23. doi: 10.1016/0090-6980(96)00005-6.


Infection is a major cause of preterm labor. Amniotic fluid from women in preterm labor associated with intrauterine infection contains increased concentrations of cytokines. The mechanism underlying this association may be a cytokine-mediated stimulation of amnion cell prostaglandin production. The biosynthesis of prostaglandins from arachidonic acid is regulated by the enzyme cyclooxygenase which exists in two forms; the constitutive form (COX-1) and the other mitogen inducible (COX-2). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of the cytokine interleukin-4 (IL-4) on cyclooxygenase activity and PGE2 production in amnion. Amnion tissue was taken at caesarean section from term women not in labor and immediately incubated for 2 hours in media containing concentrations of IL-4 ranging from 1 to 100 ng/ml. An increase in both COX-2 enzyme and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production was observed for all concentrations of IL-4 greater than 25 ng/ml (P < 0.05, n = 8). No change in COX-1 was observed. Our data suggest that the cytokine IL-4 may be involved in the pathogenesis of premature labor by inducing COX-2 in amnion tissue resulting in increased production of PGE2 and subsequent myometrial activity.

MeSH terms

  • Amnion / drug effects*
  • Amnion / enzymology
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Colorimetry / methods
  • Coloring Agents
  • Culture Techniques
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • Dinoprostone / biosynthesis*
  • Enzyme Induction
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-4 / pharmacology*
  • Isoenzymes / biosynthesis*
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / enzymology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / biosynthesis*
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles


  • Coloring Agents
  • Isoenzymes
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Tetrazolium Salts
  • Thiazoles
  • Interleukin-4
  • Cyclooxygenase 1
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS1 protein, human
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases
  • thiazolyl blue
  • Dinoprostone