Pelvic organs given the slip by the protein fibulin-5

April 25, 2011

Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a disabling condition that affects almost 50% of women over the age of 50. It occurs when the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman's pelvic organs weaken such that the pelvic organs slip out of place, often protruding into the vagina.

For many affected women, treatment involves surgery. Defining the underlying POP could provide targets for nonsurgical approaches to treating the condition. In this context, a team of researchers, led by Hiromi Yanagisawa, at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, has now identified a key role for the protein fibulin-5 in preventing the development of POP in .

The team found that fibulin-5 prevents the development of POP in mice in two ways. First, it facilitates the assembly of normal elastic fibers that help keep pelvic organs in place. Second, it inhibits the activity of MMP9, a protein that degrades the elastic fibers that help keep pelvic organs in place. As vaginal tissue samples from women with POP also showed increased levels of MMP-9, the authors suggest that therapies targeting elastic fiber–degrading proteins may help prevent, or even ameliorate, POP in women.

Gina Northington, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, discusses in detail the importance of this study in an accompanying commentary.

Explore further: Study shows 1 in 3 women has pelvic floor disorder

More information: Extracellular matrix proteases contribute to progression of pelvic organ prolapse in mice and humans. View this article at: www.jci.org/articles/view/45636?key=c7a74618d3a706d6e2a5
Fibulin-5: two for the price of one maintaining pelvic support. www.jci.org/articles/view/57438?key=dab0f15181873ab2fbf9

Related Stories

Study shows 1 in 3 women has pelvic floor disorder

March 1, 2008

A new study by Kaiser Permanente found that one-third of women suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders, which include symptoms such as the frequent urge to urinate, dropped pelvic organs, and incontinence. The study, ...

Recommended for you

Basic research fuels advanced discovery

August 26, 2016

Clinical trials and translational medicine have certainly given people hope and rapid pathways to cures for some of mankind's most troublesome diseases, but now is not the time to overlook the power of basic research, says ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.