Objective: To identify the origin of eosinophils in cases of eosinophil-associated preterm delivery.
Methods: From an established set of 465 consecutive non-anomalous singleton infants delivered at 22-32 weeks' gestation, we retrieved 161 cases of preterm delivery following spontaneous onset of preterm labor, 78 cases with maternal preeclampsia, 33 cases of abruption, and 193 cases of premature rupture of membranes (PROM). Charts were reviewed, and the placenta, umbilical cord, and membranes were examined histologically. In cases with extravascular eosinophils showing evident gradient toward the amniotic cavity, the origin of the eosinophils (fetal or maternal) was determined by the proximity to fetal or maternal vessels.
Results: Histologic evidence of an eosinophilic gradient toward the amniotic cavity was present only in the fetal (including umbilical cord and chorion) compartments. This eosinophilic gradient was present in 19% (90 of 465) of preterm delivery cases and was significantly more common in cases of PROM (54 of 193, 28%) and preterm labor (34 of 161, 21%) than abruption (two of 33, 6%) and preeclampsia (none of 78) (P < .001). In 84 of 90 cases (93%), the eosinophilic gradient was present along with multiple histologic indicators of acute intrauterine inflammation.
Conclusion: An eosinophilic gradient toward the amniotic cavity, present in nearly a fifth of cases of preterm delivery, is probably of fetal origin, making it unlikely that a maternal "allergy-like" mechanism is a cause of preterm delivery.