Differences in the placental membrane cytokine response: A possible explanation for the racial disparity in preterm birth

Ramkumar Menon, Mario Merialdi, Salvatore J. Lombardi, Stephen J. Fortunato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Problem: The prematurity rate is higher in African-Americans (AA) compared with Caucasians (C). As spontaneous preterm labor has been hypothesized to be a host inflammatory response disease racial differences in human placental membrane inflammatory cytokine and prostaglandin pathway gene expression patterns between AA and C were examined in this report. Method of study: Placental membranes (amniochorion) collected from AA and C women from cesareans at term were maintained in an organ explant system and stimulated with endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS). Microarray analysis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was performed on mRNAs and culture media from AA- and C-derived membranes to document any differences in mRNA expression and protein production of IL-1, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and expression of cyclooxygenase 1 (COX-1), COX-2 and 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase (PGDH). Results: Increased mRNA expression of IL-1, IL-8 and COX-2 in AA and IL-6, IL-10, COX-1 and PGDH in C were ocumented after LPS stimulation. Concentration of IL-1 was significantly higher in media derived from AA whereas IL-6 and IL-10 concentrations were higher in C with no differences observed in IL-8 after LPS stimulation compared with respective unstimulated controls. Conclusion: These data document ethnic diversity in placental membrane immune response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)112-118
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Amniochorion
  • IL-1
  • IL-6
  • Preterm birth
  • Prostaglandin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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