The aim of the present study was to investigate whether placental and fetal membrane AdM (adrenomedullin) mRNA expression changes with gestation and human labour, as we have previously found labour-associated changes in AdM content in fetal membranes [Al-Ghafra, Gude, Brennecke and King (2003) Clin. Sci. 105, 419–423]. Placentas and fetal membranes were collected either at term or pre-term from women either in-labour or not-in-labour, and AdM mRNA abundance was measured in tissue extracts by Northern blot analysis. Increases were found in the relative abundance of amniotic tissue AdM mRNA in both in-labour and not-in-labour groups at term compared with those at pre-term, and there were positive correlations with gestational age. Relative abundance of choriodecidual tissue AdM mRNA was also significantly elevated in the not-in-labour groups between pre-term and term tissues, although there was no significant correlation with gestational age. However, placental AdM mRNA expression was neither significantly increased at term (compared with pre-term) nor correlated with gestational age. In addition, there were significant increases in AdM mRNA in amnion and choriodecidua in the in-labour group compared with the not-in-labour group for both pre-term and term gestations. There was no difference in AdM mRNA in placental tissues between labour groups. In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that AdM production by fetal membranes is increased in amniotic and choriodecidual tissues at term, compared with pre-term, and in response to labour.

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