Société Française de Biochimie et Biologie Moléculaire

August 2022 - Guillaume Lacroix

Laboratory INFINITE - MEDICINE FACULTY OF LILLEA porous cervical mucus plug leads to preterm birth induced by experimental vaginal infection in mice
iScience , 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104526 
Guillaume Lacroix; Valérie Gouyer; Mylène Rocher; Frédéric Gottrand; Jean-Luc Desseyn (2022)


Guillaume Lacroix, 29 years old, defended his doctoral thesis in May 2022. His project, under the supervision of Jean-Luc Desseyn and Valérie Gouyer in the "mucus/mucins" group of the Unité U1286 (Univ. Lille/Inserm/CHU Lille), focused on the role of mucus and gel-forming mucins in the prevention of intrauterine infections and premature births. His work, published in the journal iScience, characterized the mouse cervical mucus plug that forms during gestation and demonstrated that mice deficient in the gel-forming mucin Muc5b produced a porous cervical mucus plug. In these mice, pathogenic E. coli O55 administered intravaginally was found in the mucus plug and the uterus. This induced a local inflammatory reaction that triggered preterm labor leading to 100% preterm births. These results demonstrate the essential barrier role of mucus and gel-forming mucins in vivo. They open perspectives for genetic studies in women to correlate a risk of preterm birth with missense or nonsense mutations in gel-forming mucin genes. Guillaume is currently working as a research engineer in a young start-up in Grenoble, EpyNext Therapeutics, to develop monoclonal antibodies to fight antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections.


Faculté de Médecine - Pôle recherche, 4e étage Centre
Place Verdun
59045 Lille Cedex

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Résumé de l'article

During gestation, the cervical mucus plug (CMP) acts to seal the cervical canal. Pilot studies in humans have suggested that a porous CMP may increase the risk of uterine infection and preterm birth. We examined the gel-forming content of the mouse vagina and the CMP. We experimentally infected pregnant mice by intravaginal administration of pathogens related to preterm birth in humans. We found that the epithelium in both the vagina and cervical canal of pregnant mice produced the two gel-forming mucins Muc5b and Muc5ac. The CMP was porous in Muc5b-deficient mice for which intravaginal administration of Escherichia coli O 55 led to the activation of an inflammatory response in the uterus and 100% preterm births. The pathogen was found in the mucus plug and uterus. This study shows that Muc5b is essential for the in vivo barrier function and the prevention of uterine infections during gestation.