The mechanisms that facilitate remodeling of the cervix in preparation for and during parturition remain poorly understood. In the current study, we have evaluated the timing of inflammatory cell migration in cervix through comparisons between wild-type mice and steroid 5alpha-reductase type 1 null mice (Srd5a1−/−), which fail to undergo cervical ripening due to insufficient local progesterone metabolism. The timing of migration and distribution of macrophages, monocytes, and neutrophils were examined using cervices from wild-type and Srd5a1−/− mice before Day 15 (d15) and during cervical ripening (late d18), and postpartum (d19). Neutrophil numbers were quantitated by cell counts and activity was estimated by measurement of myeloperoxidase activity. The mRNA and/or protein expression of neutrophil chemoattractants, CXCL2 and CXCL1, and other proinflammatory and adhesion molecules, including IL1A, IL1B, TNF, CCL11, CCL5, CCL3, ITGAM, and ICAM1, were measured in cervices collected before, during, and after birth. The effect of neutrophil depletion on parturition was tested. Tissue macrophages, myeloperoxidase activity, and expression of proinflammatory molecules are not increased within the cervix until after birth. Neutrophil numbers do not change after birth and neutrophil depletion before term has no effect on timing or success of parturition. These results suggest that cervical ripening does not require neutrophils. Moreover, neutrophil activation and a general inflammatory response are not initiated within the cervix until shortly after parturition. The timing of inflammatory cell migration and activation in pregnant cervix suggest a role for these cells in postpartum remodeling of the cervix rather than in the initiation of cervical ripening at parturition.
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