Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


During the interval of 1991-1992, 30.4% of the primary cesarean deliveries were caused by dystocia or difficult birth (1-6). One major area of dystocia is the lack of uterine cervical softening. During the softening process, there are several biochemical changes that occur in the extracellular matrix of the cervix, the exact mechanisms of these biochemical changes has yet to be determined. Recent in vivo studies have demonstrated that the hormones relaxin, estrogen and progesterone alter the composition of the cervix prior to delivery (18-43). In vivo models have dominated the investigation into cervical softening and the effects of harm ones on this process. Although they are ideally the best model to use, they can be costly and inefficient (13). One way to solve this problem is the development of an in vitro model such as a three-dimensional collagen gel (3-D). Such a model could provide an environment that is closely related to that of in vivo connective tissue, and also be inexpensive and highly accessible. The project contains two phases: 1) formation of 3-D collagen gels to give a ''tissue-like'' structure and 2) treatment of the 3-D collagen gels with various concentrations and combinations of the hormones progesterone, estrogen and relaxin. This study indicated that 3-D collagen gels were comparable to ill vivo studies only when comparing the physical properties. However, the hormone-treated 3-D collagen gels were not comparable to hormone-treated cervices; in vivo. There are two possibilities that may have contributed to the differences between the in vivo cervical studies and this study: 1) inconsistencies in the administration of the hormones and 2) the folding technique of the 3-D collagen gels. Although the data was inconsistent, changes in the 3-D collagen gels were of the same type as those seen in in vivo cervical studies. In conclusion, 3-D collagen gels have potential as an in vivo model for the mammalian cervix, however the methods of preparation and hormone administration must be further refined.


Robert Winn

Date of Award

Fall 1998

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1998 Tiffin M. Ramsey


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