Withdrawal of progestational support for pregnancy is part of the final common pathways for parturition, but the role of nuclear progesterone receptor (PGR) isoforms in this process is not known. To determine if the PGR-B isoform participates in cervical remodeling at term, cervices were obtained from mice lacking PGR-B (PGR-BKO) and from wild-type (WT) controls before or after birth. PGR-BKO mice gave birth to viable pups at the same time as WT controls during the early morning of Day 19 postbreeding. Morphological analyses indicated that by the day before birth, cervices from PGR-BKO and WT mice had increased in size, with fewer cell nuclei/area as well as diminished collagen content and structure, as evidenced by optical density of picrosirius red-stained sections, compared to cervices from nonpregnant mice. Moreover, increased numbers of resident macrophages, but not neutrophils, were found in the prepartum cervix of PGR-BKO compared to nonpregnant mice, parallel to findings in WT mice. These results suggest that PGR-B does not contribute to the growth or degradation of the extracellular matrix or proinflammatory processes associated with recruitment of macrophages in the cervix leading up to birth. Rather, other receptors may contribute to the progesterone-dependent mechanism that promotes remodeling of the cervix during pregnancy and in the proinflammatory process associated with ripening before parturition.
A progesterone-mediated receptor mechanism that does not involve the progesterone receptor-B isoform maintains pregnancy and regulates cervical remodeling and parturition.