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Keywords:

  • Immune response;
  • inflammatory cytokines;
  • preterm labor

Problem:  To compare concentrations of T-helper cell cytokines in women with preterm labor (PTL) to normal pregnancies.

Method of study:  Fourteen women with PTL and 13 women with normal pregnancies from 24 to 34 weeks were enrolled in this pilot study. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and cervical secretions were collected. PBMCs were cultured and stimulated with mitogens. Culture supernatants and cervical secretions were assayed for type 1 (interferon-γ, IL-12) and type 2 cytokines (IL-4, IL-5, IL-10 and IL-13) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays.

Results:  There were no intergroup differences in median cytokine concentrations in PBMC cultures, or in ratios of type 1/type 2 cytokines. In cervical secretions, the median concentration of IL-4 was significantly higher in control patients.

Conclusions:  PTL patients appeared to have an altered T-helper cytokine balance in cervical secretions. Further study of the role of cytokines produced in the adaptive response appears warranted.