Stretch, scratch, and stress: Suppressors and supporters of senescence in human fetal membranes

Lauren S. Richardson, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Rheanna Urrabaz-Garza, Narmada Lavu, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Introduction: Throughout gestation, amnion membranes undergo mechanical and or physiological stretch, scratch, or stress which is withstood by repairing and remodeling processes to protect the growing fetus. At term, increased oxidative stress (OS) activates p38MAPK, induces senescence, and inflammation contributing to membrane dysfunction to promote labor. However, the signaling initiated by stretch and scratch is still unclear. This study compares the induction of p38MAPK mediated senescence by stretch, scratch, and stress in human amnion epithelial cells (AECs). Methods: Primary AECs from term, not-in-labor, fetal membranes were cultured using the following conditions (N = 3); 1) CellFlex chambers with or without 20% biaxial stretch, 2) 8-well coverslips with or without scratch, and 3) cells exposed to cigarette smoke extract (CSE) inducing OS. p38MAPK (Western blot or immunocytochemistry), senescence activation, and inflammation (matrix metalloproteinases 9 [MMP9] activity-ELISA) were determined in cells exposed to various conditions. T-test and One-Way ANOVA was used to assess significance. Results: Biological membrane extension, mimicked by 20% biaxial stretch of AEC, maintained an epithelial morphology and activated P-p38MAPK (P = 0.02) compared to the non-stretch controls, but did not induce senescence or MMP9 activation. AEC scratches were healed within 40-hrs, which included proliferation, migration, and cellular transitions aided by p38MAPK activation but not senescence. CSE induced OS increased p38MAPK (P = 0.018) activation, senescence (P = 0.019), and MMP9 (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Physiologic stretch and scratch experienced during gestation can cause p38MAPK activation without causing senescence or inflammation. This may be indicative of p38MAPK's role in tissue remodeling during pregnancy. Overwhelming OS, experienced at term, results in P-p38MAPK mediated senescence and inflammation to disrupt membrane remodeling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Sep 15 2020


  • Amniotic epithelial cells
  • Fetal membranes
  • In vivo stretch
  • Oxidative stress
  • Wound formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Developmental Biology


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