Objective: We sought to develop a model of chronic intrauterine and fetal infection with Gardnerella vaginalis.
Study design: The uterine horns of pregnant New Zealand White rabbits were inoculated on day 21 of gestation with either 10(7) colony-forming units (cfu) of G vaginalis or saline solution. At necropsy, cultures were taken from blood, uterus, amniotic fluid, and fetal tissues. Amniotic fluid was assayed for tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha by bioassay. Maternal and fetal tissue samples were evaluated using the histologic index score. A P value <.05 was considered significant.
Results: Compared with saline solution-inoculated animals, the G vaginalis group had significantly more positive cultures from uterus, amniotic fluid, and fetal brain and lung (P =.02 to <.01). For the G vaginalis group, mean TNF-alpha levels and fetal brain scores increased significantly over time (P <.001 for both).
Conclusion: Chronic intrauterine and fetal infection with G vaginalis is accompanied by progressive increases in amniotic fluid TNF-alpha concentrations and fetal brain histologic index scores.