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J Reprod Immunol. 2000 Jul;47(2):185-96.

Cytokine production in chorioamnionitis.

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Department of Gynecology, Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Japan.


Lymphohematopoietic cytokines play a significant role in many biological mechanisms including a number of reproductive processes such as ovulation, implantation, placentation, cervical dilation and parturition. Recent experiments have suggested that cytokines play a crucial role in the mechanisms of preterm labor and delivery, which are the leading causes of perinatal morbidity and mortality. Growing evidence suggests that infection is deeply concerned in the pathogenesis of preterm labor and delivery. Chorioamnionitis, a subset of intrauterine infection, has been identified in 20-33% of women with preterm delivery, and the inflammatory and related cytokines, interleukin-1 (IL-1), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and interleukin-8 (IL-8), showed substantial increases in the amniotic fluid at women with intrauterine infection. Although the precise mechanism for chorioamnionitis-driven preterm labor mediated via cytokines is still unknown, both IL-1 and TNF-alpha along with IL-6 enhance prostaglandin production by human amnion cells, chorionic cells and decidual cells. Analysis of the regulatory sequences in the 5' upstream regions of receptor gene for human oxytocin, a potent uterotonic agent, suggests a close relationship between preterm labor and inflammatory cytokines through induction at the oxytocin receptor. Prompt identification of the patients with intra-amniotic infection may be useful in clinical practice. At present, the measurement of IL-8 in maternal serum or the measurement of IL-6 in cervical secretion may be helpful as a non-invasive screening for chorioamnionitis.

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