IL-1beta, IL-6, TNFalpha, fetal fibronectin, and endotoxin in the lower genital tract of pregnant women with bacterial vaginosis

Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 1998 Aug;77(7):701-6.


Background: In our studies on women with bacterial vaginosis (BV) in early pregnancy a strong association has been found between BV and the levels of endotoxin or interleukin-1alpha (IL-1alpha) in the lower genital tract. In the present study we investigated if an association could be found between BV and other cytokines (IL-1beta, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, TNF) or fetal fibronectin (FFN). The cytokine-inducing capacity of endotoxins present in the cervical mucus was explored in a monocytic cell assay.

Methods: Cervical mucus or cervicovaginal fluid was collected from women with (BV) and without BV (nonBV) attending a family planning unit for first trimester abortion. The concentrations of IL-1beta, IL-6, TNF and FFN were determined by quantitative enzyme immunoassays. TNF was determined in 63 women (BV, n=25) out of whom 37 (BV, n=11) were analyzed for IL-1beta and the remaining 26 for IL-6 (BV, n=14). FFN was determined in another 36 women (BV, n= 19). The cytokine-inducing capacity of endotoxin-containing cervical mucus and purified endotoxin of Prevotella bivia were studied by an in vitro cell assay using a human monocytic cell line (THP-1).

Results: IL-lbeta and IL-6 were found in almost all women. The levels of IL-1beta, but not IL-6, TNF or FFN, were significantly increased in women with BV compared with the nonBV women (p<0.05). Purified endotoxin from P. bivia, and cervical mucus from BV women containing high levels of endotoxin were able to induce a cytokine response (IL-6) in monocytic cells in vitro.

Conclusion: BV is associated with increased levels of IL-1beta in the lower genital tract of pregnant women in the first trimester. The ability of BV-associated endotoxins to induce cytokine production in monocytic cells may partly explain the increased IL-1beta levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections / immunology
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections / metabolism*
  • Bacteroidaceae Infections / microbiology
  • Cervix Mucus / metabolism
  • Endotoxins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Fibronectins / metabolism*
  • Genitalia, Female / immunology
  • Genitalia, Female / metabolism*
  • Genitalia, Female / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / metabolism*
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / immunology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / metabolism*
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / microbiology
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prevotella*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / immunology
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / metabolism*
  • Vaginosis, Bacterial / microbiology


  • Endotoxins
  • Fibronectins
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha