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Keywords:

  • Cytokines;
  • preterm delivery;
  • preterm labor;
  • T helper 1;
  • T helper 2

PROBLEM:  The objective of this study was to determine the levels of cytokines produced by maternal peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) upon stimulation with a mitogen, with autologous placental cells and with a trophoblast antigen extract.

METHOD OF STUDY:  Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from 54 women with a history of successful pregnancy and 30 women undergoing preterm delivery (PTD) were stimulated with the mitogen and antigens, and the cytokine levels in mitogen-stimulated culture supernatants assessed.

RESULTS:  Significantly higher levels of the type 1 cytokines, interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-2, were produced by the PTD group than by the normal pregnancy group, which on the contrary showed significantly greater production of the type 2 cytokines, IL-4, IL-5 and IL-10. A comparison of the ratios of type 2 to type 1 cytokines is indicative of a type 1 cytokine bias in PTD.

CONCLUSIONS:  These data are suggestive of a maternal type 1 cytokine bias in PTD.