Sodium hydrogen exchanger regulatory factor-1 (NHERF1) regulates fetal membrane inflammation

Ananth Kumar Kammala, Samantha Sheller-Miller, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Talar Kechichian, Hariharan Subramanian, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The fetal inflammatory response, a key contributor of infection-associated preterm birth (PTB), is mediated by nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) activation. Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor-1 (NHERF1) is an adapter protein that can regulate intracellular signal transduction and thus influence NF-kB activation. Accordingly, NHERF1 has been reported to enhance proinflammatory cytokine release and amplify inflammation in a NF-kB-dependent fashion in different cell types. The objective of this study was to examine the role of NHERF1 in regulating fetal membrane inflammation during PTB. We evaluated the levels of NHERF1 in human fetal membranes from term labor (TL), term not in labor (TNIL), and PTB and in a CD1 mouse model of PTB induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Additionally, primary cultures of fetal membrane cells were treated with LPS, and NHERF1 expression and cytokine production were evaluated. Gene silencing methods using small interfering RNA targeting NHERF1 were used to determine the functional relevance of NHERF1 in primary cultures. NHERF1 expression was significantly (p < 0.001) higher in TL and PTB membranes compared to TNIL membranes, and this coincided with enhanced (p < 0.01) interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-8 expression levels. LPS-treated animals delivering PTB had increased levels of NHERF1, IL-6, and IL-8 compared to phosphate-buffered saline (PBS; control) animals. Silencing of NHERF1 expression resulted in a significant reduction in NF-kB activation and IL-6 and IL-8 production as well as increased IL-10 production. In conclusion, downregulation of NHERF1 increased anti-inflammatory IL-10, and reducing NHERF1 expression could be a potential therapeutic strategy to reduce the risk of infection/inflammation associated with PTB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7747
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 2 2020


  • Amniochorion
  • Infection
  • Interleukin-10
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8 pregnancy
  • NF-kB
  • NHERF1
  • Parturition
  • Preterm birth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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