INTRODUCTION: Preterm cervical shortening and cervical insufficiency may be caused by a constitutional weakness of the cervix. The aim of this study was to assess the cervical collagen concentration in non-pregnant women with a history of cervical insufficiency or of a short cervix in the second trimester of pregnancy.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: In this case-control study we included non-pregnant women one year or more after pregnancy: 55 controls with a history of normal delivery; 27 women with a history of cervical insufficiency; and 10 women with a history of a short cervix (<5th percentile) and 10 women with a history of a long cervix (>95th percentile) at gestational weeks 18-20. We obtained biopsies (3 × 3-4 mm) from the ectocervix and determined the collagen concentration by measuring the hydroxyproline concentration.
RESULTS: Women with cervical insufficiency had lower collagen concentrations (63.5 ± 5.1%; mean ± SD) compared with controls (68.2 ± 5.4%; p = 0.0004); area under the ROC curve 0.73 (95% CI 0.62-0.84). A cut-off value at 67.6% collagen resulted in a positive likelihood ratio of 3.2, a sensitivity of 60%, and a specificity of 81%. Also, women with a short cervix in the second trimester had lower collagen concentrations in a non-pregnant state (62.1% ± 4.9%) compared with women with a long cervix (67.8% ± 5.0%; p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: Both cervical insufficiency and a short cervix in the second trimester of pregnancy are associated with low cervical collagen concentrations in a non-pregnant state more than one year after pregnancy.