New York, Jan 13 (IANS) Researchers, including an Indian-origin scientist, have identified a critical substance made by the body that protects against premature births caused by infection.
This is the first study to identify the specific role that hyaluronan (HA) plays in the reproductive tract, the researcher noted.
Hyaluronan is a natural substance found in many tissues, and is both a lubricant and a beneficial component of eyes, joints and skin.
“We found that HA is required to allow the epithelial lining of the reproductive tract to serve as the first line of defence against bacterial infections,” said senior author Mala Mahendroo, associate professor at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre in the US.
“Because of this action, HA offers cervical protection against the bacterial infections that cause 25 to 40 percent of pre-term births in women,” Mahendroo said.
The World Health Organization estimates that 1.09 million children aged under five die from direct complications of being born prematurely.
“Our next step is to identify exactly how HA protects the cervix, which can have important clinical implications in the effort to reduce infection-mediated pre-term labour,” said first author of the study Yucel Akgul from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centre.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.