Genital mycoplasmas can break the cervical barrier and cause intraamniotic infection and preterm birth. This study developed a six-chamber vagina-cervix-decidua-organ-on-a-chip (VCD-OOC) that recapitulates the female reproductive tract during pregnancy with culture chambers populated by vaginal epithelial cells, cervical epithelial and stromal cells, and decidual cells. Cells cultured in VCD-OOC were characterized by morphology and immunostaining for cell-specific markers. We transferred the media from the decidual cell chamber of the VCD-OOC to decidual cell chamber in feto-maternal interface organ-on-a-chip (FMi-OOC), which contains the fetal membrane layers. An ascending Ureaplasma parvum infection was created in VCD-OOC. U. parvum was monitored for 48 h post-infection with their cytotoxicity (LDH assay) and inflammatory effects (multiplex cytokine assay) in the cells tested. An ascending U. parvum infection model of PTB was developed using CD-1 mice. The cell morphology and expression of cell-specific markers in the VCD-OOC mimicked those seen in lower genital tract tissues. U. parvum reached the cervical epithelial cells and decidua within 48 h and did not cause cell death in VCD-OOC or FMi-OOC cells. U. parvum infection promoted minimal inflammation, while the combination of U. parvum and LPS promoted massive inflammation in the VCD-OOC and FMi-OOC cells. In the animal model, U. parvum vaginal inoculation of low-dose U. parvum did not result in PTB, and even a high dose had only some effects on PTB (20%). However, intra-amniotic injection of U. parvum resulted in 67% PTB. We report the colonization of U. parvum in various cell types; however, inconsistent, and low-grade inflammation across multiple cell types suggests poor immunogenicity induced by U. parvum.
- Ureaplasma parvum infection of the maternal uterine tract
- preterm birth
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology