Preterm birth is a global healthcare challenge. Spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) is commonly caused by inflammation, yet there are currently no effective therapies available. The Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal motif (BET) proteins, Bromodomain-containing protein (Brd) 2 (Brd2), Brd3 and Brd4 regulate inflammation in non-gestational tissues. The roles of Brd2–4 in human pregnancy are unknown.
Using human and mouse models, the present study has identified the Brd proteins part of the process by which inflammation induces parturition. Using human clinical samples, we demonstrate that labor and infection increase the expression of Brds in the uterus and fetal membranes. In primary human myometrial, amnion and decidual cells, we found that global Brd protein inhibition, as well as selective inhibition of Brds, suppressed inflammation-induced expression of mediators involved in myometrial contractions and rupture of fetal membranes. Importantly, studies in the mouse model demonstrate that the pan-Brd inhibitor JQ1 reduced intrauterine inflammation induced by bacterial endotoxin LPS as well as decreasing the effectiveness of LPS to induce parturition. These results implicate BET proteins as novel therapeutic targets for reducing inflammation associated with spontaneous preterm labor.