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J Perinat Med. 2017 Oct 26;45(7):851-868. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2017-0073.

Fetal death: an extreme manifestation of maternal anti-fetal rejection.



The aim of this study was to determine the association between chronic placental inflammation and amniotic fluid (AF) markers of maternal anti-fetal rejection as well as the presence of microorganisms in the AF fluid of patients with fetal death.


This cohort study included 40 patients with fetal death whose placentas were examined for chronic inflammatory lesions and whose AF chemokine ligand (CXCL)10 and interleukin (IL)-6 concentrations were determined by immunoassays. AF was processed for bacteria, mycoplasmas and viruses using cultivation and molecular microbiologic techniques (i.e. PCR-ESI/MS).


(1) The most prevalent placental findings were maternal vascular underperfusion (63.2%, 24/38), followed by chronic inflammatory lesions (57.9%, 22/38); (2) chronic chorioamnionitis (18/38) was three times more frequent than villitis of unknown etiology (6/38); (3) an elevated AF CXCL10 concentration (above the 95th centile) was present in 60% of the cases, and a receiver operating characteristics (ROC)-derived cut-off of 2.9 ng/mL had a sensitivity of 73% and a specificity of 75% in the identification of chronic placental inflammatory lesions; (4) only five cases had microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity, and the presence of microorganisms did not correlate with chronic placental inflammation.


In women with unexplained fetal death, there is an association between elevated AF CXCL10 and chronic placental inflammatory lesions. Therefore, we conclude that a subset of patients with fetal death may have endured a breakdown of maternal-fetal tolerance, which cannot be attributed to microorganisms in the amniotic cavity.


Amniotic fluid; CXCL10/IP-10; bacteria; chorioamnionitis; chronic deciduitis; chronic inflammation; interleukin-6 (IL-6); placenta; villitis of unknown etiology (VUE); viruses

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