Development of a mouse model of ascending infection and preterm birth

Nicholas R. Spencer, Enkhtuya Radnaa, Tuvshintugs Baljinnyam, Talar Kechichian, Ourlad Alzeus G. Tantengco, Elizabeth Bonney, Ananth Kumar Kammala, Samantha Sheller-Miller, Ramkumar Menon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Background Microbial invasion of the intraamniotic cavity and intraamniotic inflammation are factors associated with spontaneous preterm birth. Understanding the route and kinetics of infection, sites of colonization, and mechanisms of host inflammatory response is critical to reducing preterm birth risk. Objectives This study developed an animal model of ascending infection and preterm birth with live bacteria (E. coli) in pregnant CD-1 mice with the goal of better understanding the process of microbial invasion of the intraamniotic cavity and intraamniotic inflammation. Study design Multiple experiments were conducted in this study. To determine the dose of E. coli required to induce preterm birth, CD-1 mice were injected vaginally with four different doses of E. coli (103, 106, 1010, or 1011 colony forming units [CFU]) in 40 μL of nutrient broth or broth alone (control) on an embryonic day (E)15. Preterm birth (defined as delivery before E18.5) was monitored using live video. E. coli ascent kinetics were measured by staining the E. coli with lipophilic tracer DiD for visualization through intact tissue with an in vivo imaging system (IVIS) after inoculation. The E. coli were also directly visualized in reproductive tissues by staining the bacteria with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) prior to administration and via immunohistochemistry (IHC) by staining tissues with anti-E. coli antibody. Each pup’s amniotic fluid was cultured separately to determine the extent of microbial invasion of the intraamniotic cavity at different time points. Intraamniotic inflammation resulting from E. coli invasion was assessed with IHC for inflammatory markers (TLR-4, P-NF-κB) and neutrophil marker (Ly-6G) for chorioamnionitis at 6- and 24-h post-inoculation. Results Vaginally administered E. coli resulted in preterm birth in a dose-dependent manner with higher doses causing earlier births. In ex vivo imaging and IHC detected uterine horns proximal to the cervix had increased E. coli compared to the distal uterine horns. E. coli were detected in the uterus, fetal membranes (FM), and placenta in a time-dependent manner with 6 hr having increased intensity of E. coli positive signals in pups near the cervix and in all pups at 24 hr. Similarly, E. coli grew from the cultures of amniotic fluid collected nearest to the cervix, but not from the more distal samples at 6 hr post-inoculation. At 24 hr, all amniotic fluid cultures regardless of distance from the cervix, were positive for E. coli. TLR-4 and P-NF-κB signals were more intense in the tissues where E. coli was present (placenta, FM and uterus), displaying a similar trend toward increased signal in proximal gestational sacs compared to distal at 6 hr. Ly-6G+ cells, used to confirm chorioamnionitis, were increased at 24 hr compared to 6 hr post-inoculation and control. Conclusion We report the development of mouse model of ascending infection and the associated inflammation of preterm birth. Clinically, these models can help to understand mechanisms of infection associated preterm birth, determine targets for intervention, or identify potential biomarkers that can predict a high-risk pregnancy status early in pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0260370
JournalPloS one
Issue number12 December
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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