Am J Perinatol 1993; 10(2): 130-134
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-994644

© 1993 by Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.

Direct Stimulation of Urokinase, Plasmin, and Collagenase by Meperidine: A Possible Mechanism for the Ability of Meperidine to Enhance Cervical Effacement and Dilation

Ariel Milwidsky, Zwezdana Finci-Yeheskel, Michael Mayer
  • Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital and the Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
04 March 2008 (online)


Current hypotheses suggest that the degradation of cervical collagen and elastin leads to cervical effacement and dilation during labor. The collagenolytic activity is thought to be initiated through the conversion of latent (pro)collagenase to active collagenase by the plasmin formed from plasminogen or by other proteases similarly formed from their inactive zymogens. We presently demonstrate that meperidine stimulates the activity of several enzymes in the proteolytic cascade leading toward proteolysis of connective tissue proteins. Meperidine in its therapeutic concentration range produces a 26% stimulation of urokinase activity on substrate S-2444, a 39% stimulation of plasmin activity on substrate S-2551, and a 33% stimulation of collagenase activity on 14C-labeled globin substrate. These direct effects on the enzyme activities are noted in vitro with the purified enzymes and were confirmed with several small molecular weight chromogenic substrates and with 14C-globin protein substrate. Oxytocin at levels found during active labor fails to stimulate the in vitro activity of purified urokinase, plasmin, collagenase, trypsin, or tissue-type plasminogen activator. The effect of meperidine on the proteolytic enzymes suggests that its ability to promote cervical effacement and distention during labor may be at least partially due to a meperidine-induced stimulation of cervical proteases.