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Cytokine. 2010 Jan;49(1):10-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2009.08.014. Epub 2009 Sep 26.

Mid-trimester maternal plasma cytokines and CRP as predictors of spontaneous preterm birth.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, McGill University Faculty of Medicine, Montreal, Que., Canada.


Most previous studies of maternal cytokines and preterm birth have analyzed immunologic biomarkers after the onset of labor or membrane rupture; fewer have examined the systemic (blood) immune response prior to labor onset. We carried out a case-control study nested in a large (n=5337) prospective, multi-center cohort. Cohort women had an interview, examination, and venipuncture at 24-26 weeks. Frozen plasma samples in women with spontaneous preterm birth (n=207) and approximately 2 term controls per case (n=444) were analyzed using Luminex multianalyte profiling technology. Fresh placentas were fixed, stained, and blindly assessed for histologic evidence of infection/inflammation, decidual vasculopathy, and infarction, and vaginal swabs were analyzed for bacterial vaginosis and fetal fibronectin concentration. High maternal matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) concentration, but none of the other cytokines or C-reactive protein (CRP), was significantly associated with spontaneous preterm birth [adjusted OR=1.7 (1.1-2.4)] and showed a dose-response relation across quartiles. No association was observed, however, between maternal MMP-9 and placental infection/inflammation, bacterial vaginosis, or vaginal fetal fibronectin concentration. Our results require confirmation in future studies but suggest that a systemic immune response implicating MMP-9 may have an etiologic role in spontaneous preterm birth.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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