Association of antenatal steroid use with cord blood immune biomarkers in preterm births

Early Hum Dev. 2011 Aug;87(8):559-64. doi: 10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2011.04.013. Epub 2011 May 14.


Objectives: To evaluate the effect of maternal administration of antenatal steroids (ANS) on cord blood cytokine levels at birth in preterm infants.

Methods: Cord blood cytokine concentrations were measured for pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8); anti-inflammatory cytokines (IL-4, IL-10 and TGF-β); and neurotrophic cytokines (BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4) in two hundred preterm infants. Data were analyzed using multivariable linear regression to model the independent and joint effects of ANS and inflammation on mean log cord blood cytokine concentrations adjusted for gestational age and Apgar scores.

Results: Exposure to ANS had no significant effect on the cord blood concentrations of cytokines measured in this study. All three pro-inflammatory cytokine levels and levels of IL-10 were significantly increased and cord blood levels of TGF-β and NT-3 were significantly decreased in infants with placental inflammation.

Conclusion: Although exposure to ANS did not have any significant effect on cord blood levels of cytokines, there was a trend toward the attenuation of inflammatory response and higher levels of neurotrophic cytokines in infants born to mothers with placental inflammation and exposure to ANS compared to infants born to mothers with placental inflammation and no ANS exposure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Fetal Blood / chemistry*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / immunology*
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Interleukin-10 / blood
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Steroids / administration & dosage*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Steroids
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Interleukin-10