Increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in placentas of women undergoing spontaneous preterm delivery or premature rupture of membranes

Am J Reprod Immunol. 2004 Jul;52(1):45-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0897.2004.00181.x.


Problem: The objective of this study was to determine the levels of cytokines in the placentas of women undergoing preterm delivery (PTD) or premature rupture of membranes (PROM) as compared with women undergoing normal delivery at term.

Method of study: Placentas were obtained from 30 subjects with spontaneous PTD, 30 women with PROM and 30 women with a history of normal delivery at term. Levels of interleukin (IL)-2, interferon (IFN)-gamma, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, TNF-beta, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6 and IL-10 and IL-12 were estimated by ELISA in detergent lysates of placentas from the subjects.

Results: We found significantly increased levels of the Th1 cytokines IL-2 and IFN gamma and of the Th1-inducing cytokine IL-12 in placentas from the PTD and PROM groups as compared with those delivering at term. In contrast, the levels of the Th2 cytokines IL-4, IL-6 and IL-10 were significantly higher in placentas from term pregnancy.

Conclusions: These data support our observation of a pro-inflammatory cytokine bias in women with PTD and PROM.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / immunology*
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / immunology
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism*
  • Placenta / immunology
  • Placenta / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / immunology*
  • Premature Birth / metabolism
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / metabolism
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / metabolism


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators