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J Infect Dis. 2004 Aug 15;190(4):826-34. Epub 2004 Jul 21.

Viral and bacterial pathogens at the maternal-fetal interface.

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Department of Stomatology, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143-0512, USA.


We studied the incidence of pathogenic bacteria and concurrent infections with human cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and 2 in biopsy samples from the placenta and decidua of women with healthy pregnancies. By polymerase chain reaction analysis, we found that 38% of placental samples were positive for selected bacteria and viruses. CMV, HSV-1, and HSV-2 were detected in isolation or with bacteria in first- and second-trimester samples. Certain bacteria were detected more often during the second trimester than during the first--Ureaplasma urealyticum, Mycoplasma hominis, and Gardnerella/Bifidobacterium species. In paired samples from first-trimester tissues, the detection rate for viruses, compared with most bacteria, was higher in the decidua than in the adjacent placenta. In contrast, bacteria were more frequently detected in placenta. Analyses of immunoglobulin G isolated from the placenta support the hypothesis that immune responses suppress CMV reactivation in the presence of pathogenic bacteria at the maternal-fetal interface.

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