Maternal serum interleukin-1 beta, -6 and -8 levels and potential determinants in pregnancy and peripartum

J Perinat Med. 2004;32(6):475-80. doi: 10.1515/JPM.2004.131.


Aims: To measure maternal serum interleukins (IL) in pregnancy, delivery and early puerperium, and to identify their potential determinants.

Methods: Prospective longitudinal measures of serum IL-1 beta, IL-6 and IL-8 in 38 healthy pregnant women at antenatal visits, through labor and delivery, with clinical correlates (infection, vaginal hemorrhage and anemia) recorded by questionnaire.

Results: Pregnancy IL levels remained consistently low. IL-1 beta increased shortly before delivery, then returned to pregnant levels, except where blood loss exceeded 500 ml. IL-6 and IL-8 rose at labor onset and exceeded pregnancy levels through postpartum day three. Postpartum IL-6 was higher after non-elective cesarean section than after spontaneous delivery (P < 0.0001), and where blood loss exceeded 500 ml. IL-6 and IL-8 were higher with systemic infection during delivery (P < 0.0001) and on postpartum day one (P < 0.05); IL-8 was higher in anemia (delivery: P < 0.005; postpartum day 1: P < 0.05). Differences due to delivery mode and systemic infection remained significant after correction for other conditions.

Conclusions: Labor-dependent inflammation increases all IL levels at delivery. Further studies with larger sample sizes are required to establish reference values differentiating physiology from pathology as an aid to peripartum management.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Interleukin-8 / blood
  • Interleukins / blood*
  • Labor, Obstetric / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Postpartum Period / blood*
  • Pregnancy / blood*
  • Pregnancy Trimesters / blood
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values


  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Interleukins