Amniotic fluid and maternal race influence responsiveness of fetal membranes to bacteria

Morgan R. Peltier, Cayce O. Drobek, Geeta Bhat, George Saade, Stephen J. Fortunato, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) and preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (pPROM) occur more frequently in African-American women than in other racial groups. This may be due to an enhanced inflammatory response to pathogens associated with the condition. It is also possible that amniotic fluid (AF) has different immunomodulatory properties in African-American women that increase their risk of PTB and pPROM. To test this, we cultured fetal membranes from European-American and African-American women with sterile medium (control), Escherichia coli, Gardnerella vaginalis, Group B streptococci (GBS), Polyporphorans gingivalis, Mycoplasma hominis, Ureaplasma urealyticum or Ureaplasma parvum in the presence and absence of 50% autologous AF. Cytokine concentrations were quantified in the conditioned medium. All bacterial species increased IL-8 production. IL-1β and TNF-α production were stimulated by LPS, E. coli, and G. vaginalis compared with control, but responses to Group B streptococci and P. gingivalis were limited to IL-1β and TNF-α respectively. Genital mycoplasmas stimulated TNF-α and IL-10 but had no effect on IL-1β production. African-Americans had twice the IL-1β response to E. coli as European-Americans (P= 0.031). Conversely, European-Americans produced more IL-8 in response to LPS than African-Americans (P= 0.026). AF had both pro- and anti-inflammatory properties that varied between races and pathogens. These results suggest that the host response to fetal membrane infections is complex and not generalizable. Interventions to prevent PTB and pPROM may need to be customized based on a patient's race, type of bacterial infection and factors in her AF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-78
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Amniotic fluid
  • Genital mycoplasma
  • Infection
  • Preterm birth
  • Race

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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