Assessment of the tocolytic nifedipine in preclinical primary models of preterm birth

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Arman, Bridget M, Binder, Natalia K, de Alwis, Natasha, Beard, Sally, Debruin, Danielle A, Hayes, Alan ORCID: 0000-0003-1398-3694, Tong, Stephen, Kaitu'u-Lino, Tu’uhevaha J and Hannan, Natalie J (2023) Assessment of the tocolytic nifedipine in preclinical primary models of preterm birth. Scientific reports, 13 (1). ISSN 2045-2322


Spontaneous preterm birth is the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Tocolytics are drugs used in cases of imminent preterm birth to inhibit uterine contractions. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocking agent used to delay threatened spontaneous preterm birth, however, has limited efficacy and lacks preclinical data regarding mechanisms of action. It is unknown if nifedipine affects the pro-inflammatory environment associated with preterm labour pathophysiology and we hypothesise nifedipine only targets myometrial contraction rather than also mitigating inflammation. We assessed anti-inflammatory and anti-contractile effects of nifedipine on human myometrium using in vitro and ex vivo techniques, and a mouse model of preterm birth. We show that nifedipine treatment inhibited contractions in myometrial in vitro contraction assays (P = 0.004 vs. vehicle control) and potently blocked spontaneous and oxytocin-induced contractions in ex vivo myometrial tissue in muscle myography studies (P = 0.01 vs. baseline). Nifedipine treatment did not reduce gene expression or protein secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines in either cultured myometrial cells or ex vivo tissues. Although nifedipine could delay preterm birth in some mice, this was not consistent in all dams and was overall not statistically significant. Our data suggests nifedipine does not modulate preterm birth via inflammatory pathways in the myometrium, and this may account for its limited clinical efficacy.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1038/s41598-023-31077-x
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3215 Reproductive medicine
Current > Division/Research > Australian Institute of Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS)
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords preterm birth, morbidity, mortality, tocolytics, nifedipine, myometrium
Citations in Scopus 0 - View on Scopus
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