Objective: To determine the relative expression of cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2 in the chorion-decidual part of human fetal membranes following delivery at term and to identify any changes in expression associated with labour.
Methods: Fetal membranes were collected from 12 term pregnancies before labour following elective caesarean section and from 12 spontaneous vaginal deliveries. Expression of COX-1 and COX-2 mRNA was measured using a previously validated quantitative RT-PCR assay.
Results: COX-2 expression exceeded that of COX-1 by approximately eight-fold. COX-1 expression did not change but COX-2 expression was found to increase four-fold with labour.
Conclusions: Chorion-decidua has the capacity to contribute to the increase in prostaglandin synthesis within the uterus associated with labour. As in the amnion, it is COX-2 and not COX-1 which is upregulated with labour. COX-2 selective anti-prostaglandins should therefore be as effective as nonselective drugs in inhibition of fetal membrane prostaglandin synthesis.