Inflammation in fetal sheep from intra-amniotic injection of Ureaplasma parvum

Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2010 Dec;299(6):L852-60. doi: 10.1152/ajplung.00183.2010. Epub 2010 Oct 8.


Bronchopulmonary dysplasia is associated with chorioamnionitis and fetal lung inflammation. Ureaplasma species are the bacteria most frequently isolated from chorioamnionitis. Very chronic ureaplasma colonization of amniotic fluid causes low-grade lung inflammation and functional lung maturation in fetal sheep. Less is known about shorter exposures of the fetal lung. Therefore, we hypothesized that ureaplasmas would cause an acute inflammatory response that would alter lung development. Singleton ovine fetuses received intra-amniotic Ureaplasma parvum serovar 3 or control media at 110, 117, or 121 days and were delivered at 124 days gestational age (term = 150 days). Inflammation was assessed by 1) cell counts in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and 2) cytokine mRNA measurements, immunohistochemistry, and flow cytometry for inflammatory cells and elastin and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) staining in lung tissue. Neutrophils were increased in BALF 3 days after exposure to ureaplasmas (P = 0.01). Myeloperoxidase-positive cells increased after 3 days (P = 0.03), and major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-positive cells increased after 14 days of ureaplasma exposure (P = 0.001). PU.1 (macrophage marker)- or CD3 (T lymphocyte marker)-positive cells were not induced by ureaplasmas. CD3-positive cells in the posterior mediastinal lymph node increased in ureaplasma-exposed animals at 3, 7, and 14 days (P = 0.002). Focal elastin depositions decreased in alveolar septa at 14 days (P = 0.002), whereas α-SMA increased in arteries and bronchioli. U. parvum induced a mild acute inflammatory response and changed elastin and α-SMA deposition in the lung, which may affect lung structure and subsequent development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Cytokines / genetics
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fetus* / immunology
  • Fetus* / microbiology
  • Fetus* / physiopathology
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pneumonia* / immunology
  • Pneumonia* / microbiology
  • Pneumonia* / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Sheep*
  • Ureaplasma / pathogenicity*
  • Ureaplasma Infections / immunology*
  • Ureaplasma Infections / metabolism
  • Ureaplasma Infections / pathology


  • Cytokines