Are Ants the solution to premature human Delivery problem?

Premature birth is one of the major problems in Asian countries. About 65% of premature birth cases are reported in Pakistan. The normal gestation period is about 280 days in humans but the preterm birth occur in almost at the end of second trimester or at the start of third trimester or it is defined as the birth that occurs before the start of 37th week of pregnancy. At the time of delivery the level of oxytocin and vessopressin rises sharply. Both of these hormones are neuropeptides and these two neuropeptides are the major classes of neurotransmitters. As neurosecretary cells produce and secrete hormones, among them one of the nerve clusters produce the oxytocine and vasopressin and then store them in the posterior pituitary. At the time of birth in normal cases the fetal involvement is the induction point because ACTH released from the fetal pituitary led to the secretion of oxytocin hormone that causes the powerful uterine contractions consequences in cervix dilation that led to baby delivery.

High blood pressure, placenta, cervix or uterine wall problems, high intake of drugs, conceiving via invitro fertilization are the main causes of preterm birth that can be controlled by prenatal care up till now. There is another method that can control the preterm birth is by drugs introduction to this area.

Insect’s sneuropeptide as a drug can play an important part in treatment of preterm birth. Ants are the tinniest creature on earth that can be used in production of a drug for decreasing chances of preterm birth. Ants mainly belong to the kingdom Animalia, phylum arthropoda and class insecta . Well this is a surprising fact that how ants can help in prevention of premature birth?

A neuropeptide isolated from ants is structurally very similar to the human oxytocin and vasopressin and this neuropeptide is equivalent of vasopressin and oxytocin in arthropods, this neuropeptide is named as inotocin. Bioch emical signalling process of oxytocin and vasopressin can be better understood by the synthetic preparation of inotocin. Inotocin in ants aids in cuticle synthesis and maintaining water balance.
Vasopressin also known as antidiuretic hormone that releases from posterior pituitary and typically acts on the collecting duct of kidneys to control the re-absorption of water. More ADH leads to more water re-absorption and less urine volume. The release of ADH depends upon the intake of water. It also plays a vital role in delivery because during birth process it works in collaboration with the oxytocin and helps in regulating blood supply to the uterus. Because vasopressin aids in inducing stronger uterine contractions that leads to cervix dilation and baby comes out.

There are four brain receptors that respond to these two neuropeptides. Out of these four one is oxytocin receptor also called as OTR while rest of three are vasopressin receptors named as VR1a, VR1b and VR2. To check the bio chemical activity of inotocin, its cognate receptor synthesized by cloning. On observation it is noted that inotocin has the similar pharmacological effect on both arthropods and mammalian OTRs and VRs. Hormones are also called as ligands and these are the central atoms or molecules that attach to the complex chemical compound for doing a distinct biochemical function. While checking the functionality of inotocin in humans it is observed that inotocin activated the V1b receptor but inhibited the V1a receptor. While V1a receptors are primarily involved in constriction of uterine vessels. Furthermore, V1a receptors also mediate cell proliferation, platelet aggregation, coagulation factor release, and glyconeogenesis and V1b acts as a receptor for vasopressin and this receptor is in close relation with the subfamily of G-protein. The activity of V1b receptors is regulated by G proteins which stimulate a phosphatidylinositol – calcium second messenger system. The second messenger system is called as a linker system. It is a major contributor to homeostasis and the control of water, glucose, and salts in the blood.

When this inotocin ligand tested on human uterine tissues, a prominent inhibition of uterine muscular contraction was observed.

A very stable and highly selective inhibitor of vasopressin hormone receptor V1a prepared by a slight modification in the insect neuropeptide called as inotocin. This inhibition of V1a receptor can cause the interruption in regular blood supply to the uterus that ultimately inhibits proper uterine contraction. The vasopressin V1a receptor also plays an important role in the brain and in the cardiovascular system. Hence by using its counter hormone or ligand heart rate, blood pressure can be controlled. It is considered as an important fact because the disturbance in heart rate and blood pressure regulation considered as important factors that lead to preterm birth. The basic concept behind this inotocin as a drug is exactly the same that it can inhibit uterine contractions and can aid in the regulation of blood pressure. By the implementation of this unique strategy thousands of the life threats can be prevented and millions of lives can be saved.

While in a parallel study by the analysis of genetic data sets it is proved that many insects have a signalling system common in almost whole kingdom animalia that is based on oxytocin and vasopressin hormone.
This concept is considered as innovative and fascinating for example take an insect neuropeptide, skip over 600 million years of evolution and by doing a small chemical modification in that substance it can be used as a useful drug for inhibiting unwanted uterine contractions. Furthermore by developing receptor sub-types and selective ligands, biochemical principles of such complex signalling systems can be investigated.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Dunya News’ editorial stance.

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