Intrauterine T-cell activation and increased proinflammatory cytokine concentrations in preterm infants with cerebral lesions

Lancet. 2001 Nov 17;358(9294):1699-700. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(01)06723-x.


Brain injury is common in very preterm infants, and intrauterine infection is a frequent antecedent of preterm birth. We examined the relation of cerebral damage to intrauterine antigen exposure and inflammation in 50 infants who were born at 23-29 weeks' gestation. Higher concentrations of cytokines (tumour necrosis factor alpha [TNF-alpha], and interleukins [IL], 1beta, 6, and 10) and CD45RO(+) T lymphocytes in umbilical blood predicted cerebral lesions detected by magnetic resonance imaging very soon after delivery. Our results suggest that infants who mount an immune response in utero are at higher risk of cerebral lesions.

Publication types

  • Letter
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain Injuries / blood
  • Brain Injuries / etiology*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Fetal Blood
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7 / blood*


  • Cytokines
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Superfamily, Member 7
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens