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Cytokine. 2008 Oct;44(1):78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2008.06.009. Epub 2008 Aug 13.

Differences in amniotic fluid and maternal serum cytokine levels in early midtrimester women without evidence of infection.

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School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, 2052 NSW, Australia.


The amniotic fluid cytokine profile has been shown to be indicative of various disease states, and changes may be associated with preterm labor or infection. Anti-inflammatory cytokine profiles may be essential for successful normal pregnancy. However, there are currently few normative data on the concentration of cytokines in amniotic fluids during pregnancy. The aim of this study was to provide new amniotic fluid cytokine data for future comparative studies in disease states, notably in utero viral infections, and to compare these with maternal serum levels. Amniotic fluid was obtained from 100 pregnant women undergoing elective amniocentesis at the Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick. Concentrations of 27 cytokines were simultaneously measured in amniotic fluid and a subset of matching maternal sera (n=33) using a multiplex bead-based immunoassay system (Bio-Plex, Bio-Rad). To exclude infection, nested multiplex PCR targeting 17 known congenital infectious agents were performed on all amniotic fluid and maternal serum samples, and serological testing was also performed against some of these agents. Maternal serum concentration was positively correlated with amniotic fluid levels for MIP-1beta (r=0.39, P=0.027). IL-1ra was positively correlated to maternal age (r=0.210, P=0.036), and mean IL-5 levels were significantly higher in amniotic fluids from pregnancies with male fetuses than those with female fetuses (P=0.036). Normal amniotic fluid concentrations for five cytokines (IL-6, IL-8, IP-10, MCP-1, IL-1ra) were found to be significantly elevated over maternal serum concentrations in matched pairs (P<0.05). Concentrations of 12 cytokines (eotaxin, IFN-gamma, IL-9, IL-12, IL-15, IL-17, MIP-1alpha, MIP-1beta, RANTES, TNF-alpha, VEGF, PDGF bb) were significantly elevated in maternal serum compared to paired amniotic fluid at midtrimester (P<0.05). Amniotic fluid may be more representative of the fetal cytokine profile than cytokine analysis on antenatal sera as it represents predominantly fetal urinary and respiratory secretions. This study provides new normative data for multiple cytokine levels in amniotic fluid and maternal sera at 14-16 weeks gestation, and is a valuable tool for future diagnostic and comparative studies.

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