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Cytokine profiling: variation in immune modulation with preterm birth vs. uncomplicated term birth identifies pivotal signals in pathogenesis of preterm birth



To assess deviations in longitudinally measured cytokines with preterm birth (PTB).


Prospective longitudinal study targeting 80 subjects. Phlebotomy specimens for broad panel of cytokine analysis were obtained at three time (T) intervals: first trimester (T1: 8-14 weeks' gestation), second trimester (T2: 18-22 weeks' gestation), and third trimester (T3: 28-32 weeks' gestation). Important demographics and outcomes were tracked. Data were stratified and the target groups were analyzed as follows: "Uncomplicated" (delivered ≥37 weeks) or "Preterm Birth" (<37 weeks). Generalized Linear Modeling determined rate of change T1-T3 by outcome.


Complete data replete with phlebotomy at all three visits were obtained on 80 women. Birth outcomes were as follows: 11 Uncomplicated Term Birth (UTB), 28 PTB, 4 low birth weight (LBW), 16 OB complications (OBC), 11 current infections (IFN), and 10 mixed complications (MC=2 or more of the above). 28 PTB were compared to 11 uncomplicated term deliveries. In both groups, T helper type 1 (TH1) cytokine (IL-1β), pleiotrophic pro-inflammatory cytokine (IL-6), and counter-regulatory cytokine (IL-10) responses decreased over gestation, but rates of change in IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-10 were significantly different. Stratification of women by smoking status additionally demonstrated significant variance in immune status over the course of pregnancy.


Women delivering PTB demonstrated significant differences in cytokine trajectory over pregnancy; these data further validate key role played by immune regulation in directing pregnancy outcome. Likewise, smoking impacts longitudinal trajectory of cytokines over pregnancy.

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