Obstetrics & Gynecology

Reproductive Sciences Research

This division currently has four full-time academic researchers: Dr. Sandy Davidge, Dr. Denise Hemmings, Dr. Peter Mitchell, and Dr. David Olson

All investigators currently have Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding and most have significant other sources of funding for specific and/or collaborative projects. There are extensive collaborations within the Division and with other national or international groups. The following is a brief summary of the research activity currently underway in each laboratory.

The Davidge Lab 

The focus of the Davidge laboratory is understanding the mechanisms of cardiovascular dysfunction in complicated pregnancies for both the mother and her offspring.. The laboratory has three complementary programs that includes the investigation for the causes and consequences of preeclampsia, determining the consequence of maternal aging on pregnancy outcomes, and addressing the mechanisms for the cardiovascular pathophysiology from the offspring [a field termed Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (DOHaD)]. 

The Hemmings Lab 

The Hemmings laboratory is focused on understanding the role of a bioactive lipid called sphingosine-1-phosphate on normal maternal vascular and uterine adaptations to pregnancy. This laboratory also examines the impact of chronic viral infections in conjunction with other stressors such as breast cancer, aging and pregnancy on these lipid-mediated responses. 

The Mitchell Lab 

The objective of the Mitchell laboratory is better understanding of the causes of preterm labour and birth. The research focus is on molecular mechanisms that regulate uterine contractility. 

The Olson Lab

The Olson laboratory studies preterm birth from gene-environment, predictive and mechanistic perspectives. The focus of recent studies is on allostatic load and inflammatory pathways as factors leading to preterm birth. Collaborative efforts with international groups are aimed at bringing research products into clinical utilization. 

Representative Publications

  1. Aerobic exercise training reduces cardiac function in adult male offspring exposed to prenatal hypoxia

    Reyes LM, Kirschenman R, Quon A, Morton JS, Shah A, Davidge ST.

    Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2015 Sep;309(5):R489-98. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00201.2015. Epub 2015 Jul 8.

    PMID: 26157059

  2. Effect of advanced maternal age on pregnancy outcomes and vascular function in the rat.

    Care AS, Bourque SL, Morton JS, Hjartarson EP, Davidge ST.

    Hypertension. 2015 Jun;65(6):1324-30. doi: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.05167. Epub 2015 Apr 27.
    PMID: 25916720 

  3. Molecular mechanisms of maternal vascular dysfunction in preeclampsia.

    Goulopoulou S, Davidge ST.

    Trends Mol Med. 2015 Feb;21(2):88-97. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2014.11.009. Epub 2014 Dec 2. Review.

    PMID: 25541377

  4. Review: novel insights into the regulation of vascular tone by sphingosine 1-phosphate.

    Kerage D, Brindley DN, Hemmings DG.

    Placenta. 2014 Feb;35 Suppl:S86-92. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2013.12.006. Epub 2013 Dec 21. Review.

    PMID: 24411702

  5. Vascular dysfunction in young, mid-aged and aged mice with latent cytomegalovirus infections.

    Gombos RB, Brown JC, Teefy J, Gibeault RL, Conn KL, Schang LM, Hemmings DG.

    Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013 Jan 15;304(2):H183-94. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00461.2012. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

    PMID: 23125213

  6. Impact of local endothelial challenge with cytomegalovirus or glycoprotein B on vasodilation in intact pressurized arteries from nonpregnant and pregnant mice.

    Gombos RB, Teefy J, Lee A, Hemmings DG.

    Biol Reprod. 2012 Oct 11;87(4):83. doi: 10.1095/biolreprod.112.099168. Print 2012 Oct.

    PMID: 22875909

  7. Chemotactic activity of gestational tissues through late pregnancy, term labor, and RU486-induced preterm labor in Guinea pigs.

    Gomez-Lopez N, Tong WC, Arenas-Hernandez M, Tanaka S, Hajar O, Olson DM, Taggart MJ, Mitchell BF.

    PMID: 25329235

  8. The uterine myocyte as a target for prevention of preterm birth.

    Mitchell BF, Aguilar HN, Mosher A, Wood S, Slater DM.

    Facts Views Vis Obgyn. 2013;5(1):72-81. Review.

    PMID: 24753931

  9. Rho-kinase mediates diphosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chain in cultured uterine, but not vascular smooth muscle cells.

    Aguilar HN, Tracey CN, Zielnik B, Mitchell BF.

    J Cell Mol Med. 2012 Dec;16(12):2978-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2012.01625.x.

    PMID: 22947248

  10. Two novel genetic variants in the mineralocorticoid receptor gene associated with spontaneous preterm birth.

    Christiaens I, Ang QW, Gordon LN, Fang X, Williams SM, Pennell CE, Olson DM.
    BMC Med Genet. 2015 Aug 11;16(1):59. doi: 10.1186/s12881-015-0205-y.

    PMID: 26260058

  11. Adverse childhood experiences are associated with spontaneous preterm birth: a case-control study.

    Christiaens I, Hegadoren K, Olson DM.

    BMC Med. 2015 Jun 11;13:124. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0353-0

    PMID: 26063042

  12. Ancestral exposure to stress epigenetically programs preterm birth risk and adverse maternal and newborn outcomes.

    Yao Y, Robinson AM, Zucchi FC, Robbins JC, Babenko O, Kovalchuk O, Kovalchuk I, Olson DM, Metz GA.

    BMC Med. 2014 Aug 7;12:121. doi: 10.1186/s12916-014-0121-6.

    PMID: 25286408