TRANSIENT LIPOPOLYSACCHARIDE-INDUCED CYTOKINE RESPONSES IN THE MATERNAL AND FETAL GUINEA PIG
Dickinson, Michelle A.
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The aim of this study was to further investigate the role of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the pathogenesis of fetal cererbral white matter injury associated with chorioamnionitis by charaterizing the time course of the cytokine response in the pregnant guinea pig following a maternal inflammatory insult. Chorioamnionitis increases the risk for fetal brain injury. In the guinea pig, a threshold maternal inflammatory response must be reached for significant fetal brain injury to occur. However, a previous study demonstrated that, by seven days after an acute maternal inflammatory insult, cytokine levels in both maternal and fetal compartments are not different from controls. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to test the hypothesis that a significant cytokine response occurs within the first seven days following an acute maternal inflammatory response. Pregnant guinea pigs (n=34) were injected intraperitoneally with 100µg/kg lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at 70% gestation and euthanized at 24 hours, 48 hours or 5 days following endotoxin exposure. Control animals were euthanized at 70% gestation without exposure. Concentrations of interleukin-6, interleukin 1-β and tumour necrosis factor-α (IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α) were quantified in the maternal serum and amniotic fluid by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. IL-6 and IL-1β concentrations were elevated in the maternal serum at 24 hours and returned to control levels by five days. In the amniotic fluid, IL-6 peaked at 48 hours and IL-1β at 24 hours. TNF-α levels were not significantly increased. A single maternal LPS injection produces transient increases in cytokine concentrations in the maternal serum and amniotic fluid. This further implicates the cytokines as potential mediators of fetal white matter damage. Although this response might not be sufficient to produce the brain injury itself, it may initiate harmful pro-inflammatory cytokine cascades, which could even continue to harm the fetus following delivery. A human diagnostic protocol was developed to assess the use of serial serum biomarkers, including IL-6 and TNF-α, in the prediction of histological chorioamnionitis. Preliminary analysis of the pilot study suggests that certain biomarkers might be worthy of further investigation in a larger-scale study.