Problem: Intrauterine infection results in an increase in cytokines. This study compared the time courses for the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine responses in 33 pregnant rabbits at 70% gestation. Pro-inflammatory markers were activated nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kappaB) in placenta and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) in amniotic fluid. These were compared to the anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra), in placenta and uterus.
Method of study: Does were endoscopically inoculated with Escherichia coli through their cervices and sacrificed at six intervals between 0 and 30 hr post-inoculation.
Results: Activated NF-kappaB, determined by electromobility gel shift assay, increased significantly 16 hr after bacterial inoculation (P < or = 0.05). This was directly mirrored by TNF-alpha concentrations, determined by bioassay, in the amniotic fluid. However, IL-1ra levels, determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, did not increase in response to infection.
Conclusions: Intrauterine infection results in an imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines that may potentiate infection-induced preterm delivery.