Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011 Feb 4;6(2):e16806. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016806.

A signature of maternal anti-fetal rejection in spontaneous preterm birth: chronic chorioamnionitis, anti-human leukocyte antigen antibodies, and C4d.

Author information

Perinatology Research Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.



Chronic chorioamnionitis is found in more than one-third of spontaneous preterm births. Chronic chorioamnionitis and villitis of unknown etiology represent maternal anti-fetal cellular rejection. Antibody-mediated rejection is another type of transplantation rejection. We investigated whether there was evidence for antibody-mediated rejection against the fetus in spontaneous preterm birth.


This cross-sectional study included women with (1) normal pregnancy and term delivery (n = 140) and (2) spontaneous preterm delivery (n = 140). We analyzed maternal and fetal sera for panel-reactive anti-HLA class I and class II antibodies, and determined C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium by immunohistochemistry. Maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity in spontaneous preterm births was higher than in normal term births (48.6% vs. 32.1%, p = 0.005). Chronic chorioamnionitis was associated with a higher maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity (p<0.01), significant in preterm and term birth. Villitis of unknown etiology was associated with increased maternal and fetal anti-HLA class I and II seropositivity (p<0.05, for each). Fetal anti-HLA seropositivity was closely related to maternal anti-HLA seropositivity in both groups (p<0.01, for each). C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium was more frequent in preterm labor than term labor (77.1% vs. 11.4%, p<0.001). Logistic regression analysis revealed that chronic chorioamnionitis (OR = 6.10, 95% CI 1.29-28.83), maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity (OR = 5.90, 95% CI 1.60-21.83), and C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium (OR = 36.19, 95% CI 11.42-114.66) were associated with preterm labor and delivery.


A major subset of spontaneous preterm births has a signature of maternal anti-fetal cellular and antibody-mediated rejections with links to fetal graft-versus-host disease and alloimmune reactions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center