Programmed cell death (apoptosis) as a possible pathway to metalloproteinase activation and fetal membrane degradation in premature rupture of membranes

Stephen J. Fortunato, Ramkumar Menon, Carrie Bryant, Salvatore J. Lombardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Increased matrix metalloproteinase 2 expression and activity are associated with premature rupture of fetal membranes. A proapoptotic protein produced in response to deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation, p53, can bind to the matrix metalloproteinase 2 gene promoter and cause increased gene expression. It promotes apoptosis by inducing the expression of the proapoptotic bax gene and inhibiting the antiapoptotic bcl-2 gene. This study was undertaken to investigate the expression pattern of apoptotic elements in pregnancy complications that may cause increased expression of the gene for matrix metalloproteinase 2. STUDY DESIGN: Amniochorial membranes were collected from the following groups of women: (1) women with premature rupture of fetal membranes, (2) women with preterm labor and intact membranes, and (3) women with term labor after vaginal delivery. Deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation was tested with ligation-mediated polymerase chain reaction and the terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase- mediated biotinylated deoxyribonucleoside triphosphate end-labeling assay. Matrix metalloproteinase 2, p53, bcl-2, and bax gene expression patterns were studied with quantitative competitive polymerase chain reaction. Statistical analysis was performed with the Tukey-Kramer multiple comparison test. RESULTS: Quantitative competitive polymerase chain reaction documented a 10- fold increase in the expression of the gene for matrix metalloproteinase 2 in premature rupture of fetal membranes with respect to term and preterm labor. This induction coincided with an increase in the expressions of the proapoptotic genes p53 and bax and a drop in the expression of the antiapoptotic gene bcl-2. Ligation-mediated polymerase chain reaction revealed deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation in specimens from premature rupture of fetal membranes and not in those from preterm labor or labor at term. Histochemical analysis documented fragmented deoxyribonucleic acid in chorionic and amniotic cells. CONCLUSION: This study suggests that apoptosis is associated with premature rupture of fetal membranes. Deoxyribonucleic acid fragmentation, associated with elevations in the levels of the two proapoptotic gene products evaluated (p53 and bax) and a drop in the level of the antiapoptotic bcl-2, was seen in premature rupture of the fetal membranes. Induction of matrix metalloproteinase 2 may be a function of p53 gene expression increase in premature rupture of fetal membranes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1468-1476
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican journal of obstetrics and gynecology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2000



  • Amnion-chorion
  • Apoptosis
  • Bax
  • Ligation-mediated polymerase chain reaction
  • Matrix metalloproteinase 2
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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