Objective: The purpose of our study was to determine the concentrations of endotoxin and interleukin-1 alpha in the cervical mucus and vaginal fluid of pregnant women who either did or did not have bacterial vaginosis.
Study design: Samples of cervical mucus and vaginal fluid were collected from women in early pregnancy who had signs of bacterial vaginosis and from healthy control subjects. The samples were analyzed for the concentrations of endotoxin and interleukin-1 alpha. In addition, wet mounts were examined for signs of inflammation indicated by increased numbers of leukocytes.
Results: Both endotoxin and interleukin-1 alpha occurred in much higher concentrations (p < 0.0001, p < 0.0002) in both the cervical mucus and the vaginal fluid of women with signs of bacterial vaginosis than they did in healthy control subjects. A correlation was found between the interleukin-1 alpha concentrations in the vaginal fluid and the number of leukocytes as judged by a semi-quantitative evaluation of wet mounts (p = 0.0365). The concentrations of endotoxin correlated with those of interleukin-1 alpha in both fluids (vaginal fluid, p < 0.01; cervical mucus, p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Our study shows that concentrations of endotoxin and interleukin-1 alpha in cervical mucus and vaginal fluid of women in early pregnancy who have bacterial vaginosis are significantly higher than the corresponding levels in control subjects.