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Hum Pathol. 2001 Jun;32(6):623-9.

Acute funisitis of preterm but not term placentas is associated with severe fetal inflammatory response.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Acute funisitis, whose basic pathologic feature is umbilical vasculitis, constitutes a type of fetal inflammatory response to intrauterine infection. In the present study, a comparative analysis was performed between the clinicopathologic profiles of acute funisitis in term and preterm placentas along with measurement of fetal plasma interleukin 6 (IL-6) levels by specific immunoassay to assess the different biologic implications for the fetus. Acute funisitis in preterm placentas showed a significantly higher incidence of umbilical arteritis (P <.000001), higher fetal plasma IL-6 level (P <.0001), and higher prevalence of major perinatal morbidities (P <.0001). To assess the possible variation in fetal cell response to infectious agents according to gestational age, amnion cells and placental villous tissues obtained at different gestational ages were treated with bacterial lipopolysaccharides, and the IL-6 level of the culture media was assayed. Amnion cells and placental villous tissues from preterm placenta showed a more pronounced cytokine response than those from term placenta. The findings of this study indicate that the clinicopathologic significance of acute funisitis in term placentas is different from that of preterm placentas. Furthermore, they indicate that the robust inflammatory response of the fetus associated with elevated fetal plasma IL-6 level may reflect the biologic needs of the premature fetus to escape from the hostile intrauterine environment.

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