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Ghrelin in the human myometrium.BACKGROUND: Ghrelin is a 28-amino acid octanolyated peptide, synthesised primarily in the stomach. It stimulates growth hormone release, food intake and exhibits many other diverse effects. Our group have previously determined that ghrelin inhibited human contractility in vitro. The aim of this study therefore, was to investigate the expression of ghrelin, its receptor, the growth hormone secretagogue receptor type 1 (GHS-R1), ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT) which catalyses ghrelin octanoylation, prohormone convertase 1/3 (PC1/3) responsible for pro-ghrelin processing, in human myometrium, during pregnancy prior to labour, during labour and in the non-pregnant state. Modulation of ghrelin and ghrelin receptor expression in cultured myometrial cells was also investigated. METHODS: mRNA and protein were isolated from human myometrium and the myometrial smooth muscle cell line hTERT-HM; and real-time fluorescence RT-PCR, western blotting and fluorescence microscopy performed. The effects of beta-Estradiol and bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) on hTERT-HM gene expression were evaluated by western blotting. RESULTS: We have reported for the first time the expression and processing of ghrelin, GHS-R1, GOAT and PC1/3 expression in human myometrium, and also the down-regulation of ghrelin mRNA and protein expression during labour. Furthermore, GHS-R1 protein expression significantly decreased at labour. Myometrial GOAT expression significantly increased during term non-labouring pregnancy in comparison to both non-pregnant and labouring myometrium. Mature PC1/3 protein expression was significantly decreased at term pregnancy and labour in comparison to non-pregnant myometrium. Ghrelin, GHS-R1, GOAT and PC1/3 mRNA and protein expression was also detected in the hTERT-HM cells. Ghrelin protein expression decreased upon LPS treatment in these cells while beta-Estradiol treatment increased GHS-R1 expression. CONCLUSIONS: Ghrelin processing occurred in the human myometrium at term pregnancy and in the non-pregnant state. GOAT expression which increased during term non-labouring pregnancy demonstrating a similar expression pattern to prepro-ghrelin and GHS-R1, decreased at labour, signifying possible myometrial ghrelin acylation. Moreover, the presence of PC1/3 may contribute to pro-ghrelin processing. These results along with the previous in vitro data suggest that myometrially-produced and processed ghrelin plays a significant autocrine or paracrine role in the maintenance of relaxation in this tissue during pregnancy. Furthermore, the significant uterine modulators LPS and beta-Estradiol are involved in the regulation of ghrelin and ghrelin receptor expression respectively, in the human myometrium.
Simulation of the contractile response of cells on an array of micro-posts.A bio-chemo-mechanical model has been used to predict the contractile responses of smooth cells on a bed of micro-posts. Predictions obtained for smooth muscle cells reveal that, by converging onto a single set of parameters, the model captures all of the following responses in a self-consistent manner: (i) the scaling of the force exerted by the cells with the number of posts; (ii) actin distributions within the cells, including the rings of actin around the micro-posts; (iii) the curvature of the cell boundaries between the posts; and (iv) the higher post forces towards the cell periphery. Similar correspondences between predictions and measurements have been demonstrated for fibroblasts and mesenchymal stem cells once the maximum stress exerted by the stress fibre bundles has been recalibrated. Consistent with measurements, the model predicts that the forces exerted by the cells will increase with both increasing post stiffness and cell area (or equivalently, post spacing). In conjunction with previous assessments, these findings suggest that this framework represents an important step towards a complete model for the coupled bio-chemo-mechanical responses of cells.