Available therapeutic interventions for managing preterm labour have not been consistently successful due to controversies related to its etiology. Multiple mechanisms, including inflammation play a significant role in the pathogenesis of preterm labour. The connective tissue extracellular matrix of the amniochorion contains collagen fibres that maintain the tensile strength of the amniochorion, resisting mechanical stress and preventing rejection of the fetal allograft. Expression of pro-inflammatory mediators in the amniochorion triggers production of prostaglandins in the uterus and enzymatic degradation of the resilient extracellular matrix of the fetal membranes by matrix metalloproteinases leading to uterine contractions and cervical remodelling resulting in preterm labour. This review appraises the pathophysiological mechanisms of pro-inflammatory mediators in spontaneous preterm labour and their associations with multi-factorial etiological pathways. The physiological pathways and biological mechanisms of uterine activity during pregnancy and parturition are also discussed. Finally, the review provides an overview of the biological basis of common therapeutic agents for treating preterm labour. In this review, keywords related to pathophysiological mechanisms of maternal pro-inflammatory mediators in preterm labour and clinical management were used in the literature search from the PubMed and Google Scholar databases. The snowball sampling methodology was further employed to obtain a comprehensive literature search.
Key words: Preterm labour, pro-inflammatory mediators, pathophysiology.
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