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1.  Diagnosis of Placental Abruption: Relationship between Clinical and Histopathological Findings 
We evaluated the extent to which histologic lesions bearing a diagnosis of abruption conform to a diagnosis based on established clinical criteria. We further examined the profile of chronic and acute histologic lesions associated with clinical abruption.
Data from the New Jersey-Placental Abruption Study – a multi-center, case-control study – were utilized to compare the clinical and histologic criteria for abruption. The study was based on 162 women with clinically diagnosed abruption and 173 controls. We examined the concordance between clinical indicators for abruption with those of a histopathological diagnosis. The clinical criteria for a diagnosis of abruption included (i) evidence of retroplacental clot(s); (ii) abruption diagnosed on prenatal ultrasound; or (iii) vaginal bleeding accompanied by nonreassuring fetal status or uterine hypertonicity. The pathological criteria for abruption diagnosis included hematoma, fibrin deposition, compressed villi, and hemosiderin-laden histiocytes in cases with older hematomas. Acute lesions included chorioamnionitis, funisitis, acute deciduitis, meconium stained membranes, villous stromal hemorrhage, and villous edema. Chronic lesions included chronic deciduitis, decidual necrosis, decidual vasculopathy, placental infarctions, villous maldevelopment (delayed or accelerated maturation), hemosiderin deposition, intervillous thrombus, and chronic villitis.
Of clinically diagnosed cases, the sensitivity and specificity for a histologic confirmation of abruption were 30.2% and 100%, respectively. Presence of retroplacental clots remained the single most common finding (77.1%) among clinically diagnosed cases. Among the acute lesions, chorioamnionitis and funisitis were associated with abruption. The only chronic histologic lesion associated with abruption was placental infarctions.
The concordance between clinical and pathologic criteria for abruption diagnosis is poor. The criteria for diagnosing a clinical abruption should include sonographic visualization of abruption, evidence of retroplacental clots, or vaginal bleeding accompanied by nonreassuring fetal status or uterine hypertonicity.
PMCID: PMC2814948  PMID: 19897298
Placental abruption; histopathologic lesions; chronic etiology; villous maturation; villous dysmaturity; infarctions; abruption diagnosis
2.  High Rate of Chronic Villitis in Placentas of Pregnancies Complicated by Influenza A/H1N1 Infection 
Introduction. Pandemic influenza A/H1N1 infection during pregnancy has a negative impact on several aspects of pregnancy outcome. As yet, no elucidating mechanism has been revealed for these effects. We investigated whether placentas of pregnancies complicated by 2009 influenza A/H1N1 infection demonstrated an increased rate of chronic villitis and whether this villitis was caused by influenza virus. Methods. We performed a cohort study on 145 pregnant outpatients during the 2009-2010 influenza A H1N1 pandemic. The placentas of patients with influenza infection were examined for histologic signs of chronic villitis. In case of villitis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on influenza virus was performed on placental tissue. Results. 29 patients had influenza infection. Placentas of 15 of these patients were collected and examined. In 7 cases (47%) chronic villitis was detected. Placental weight and birth weight of the neonates did not differ between cases with and without chronic villitis. In all cases PCR was negative for influenza. Conclusion. In our series, chronic villitis was present in a high proportion of placentas of pregnancies complicated by 2009 influenza A/H1N1 infection. We could not demonstrate the presence of influenza virus in placental tissue.
PMCID: PMC3947755  PMID: 24693211
3.  Histopathological analysis of the placental lesions in pregnancies complicated with IUGR and stillbirths in comparison with noncomplicated pregnancies 
Placental factors and hypoxemia are the keys to intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and stillbirth. The aim of the study is to analyze histological changes in placentas of IUGR fetuses in pregnancies with no apparent etiologic factor and unexplained intrauterine fetal deaths.
Material and Methods
A total of 110 placentas were collected; 26 placentas of IUGR fetuses with no apparent cause, 58 placentas from unexplained intrauterine deaths over 20 weeks of gestation, and 26 placentas from uncomplicated pregnancies who delivered a healthy live baby. Microscopic examinations of placentas were performed for histopathological analyzes.
Gestational age at delivery was 33.67±4.37 weeks, 29.15±8.36 weeks, and 39.0±1.52 weeks in women in group I, group II and group III, respectively (p<0.01). Infarction and intervillous thrombosis are significantly more frequent in placentas of Group I and group II. Chronic villitis occurred in 69%, 63% and 30% of group I, group II, and group III, respectively. Placental intravascular thrombi (Group I, 31% and group II, 26%), perivillous fibrin deposition and fibrinoid necrosis (65% in Group I and 53% in group II), infarction, intervillous thrombosis, chronic villitis, hemorrhagic endovasculitis, placental intravascular thrombi, perivillous fibrin deposition, fibrinoid necrosis, erythroblastosis and villous edema were found in the study group.
The results reported here indicate that a relationship exists between morphological changes in the placentas of IUGR and intrauterine fetal deaths
PMCID: PMC3939110  PMID: 24591966
Stillbirth; intrauterine growth restriction; histopathology; placenta; light microscopy
4.  Villitis of Unknown Etiology is Associated with a Distinct Pattern of Chemokine Up-regulation in the Feto-maternal and Placental Compartments: Implications for Conjoint Maternal Allograft Rejection and Maternal Anti-fetal Graft-versus-Host Disease1 
The co-presence of histoincompatible fetal and maternal cells is a characteristic of human placental inflammation. Villitis of unknown etiology (VUE), a destructive inflammatory lesion of villous placenta, is characterized by participation of Hofbauer cells (placental macrophages) and maternal T cells. In contrast to acute chorioamnionitis of infection-related origin, the fundamental immunopathology of VUE is unknown. This study was performed to investigate the placental transcriptome of VUE and to determine whether VUE is associated with systemic maternal and/or fetal inflammatory response(s). Comparison of the transcriptome between term placentas without and with VUE revealed differential expression of 206 genes associated with pathways related to immune response. The mRNA expression of a subset of chemokines and their receptors (CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, CXCL13, CCL4, CCL5, CXCR3, CCR5) was higher in VUE placentas than in normal placentas (p < 0.05). Analysis of blood cell mRNA showed a higher expression of CXCL9 and CXCL13 in the mother, and CXCL11 and CXCL13 in the fetus of VUE cases (p < 0.05). The median concentrations of CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 in maternal and fetal plasma were higher in VUE (p < 0.05). Comparison of preterm cases without and with acute chorioamnionitis revealed elevated CXCL9, CXCL10, CXCL11, and CXCL13 concentrations in fetal plasma (p < 0.05), but not in maternal plasma with chorioamnionitis. We report for the first time the placental transcriptome of VUE. A systemic derangement of CXC chemokines in maternal and fetal circulation distinguishes VUE from acute chorioamnionitis. We propose that VUE be a unique state combining maternal allograft rejection and maternal antifetal graft-vs-host disease mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC2754231  PMID: 19265171
human; inflammation; chemokines; graft versus host disease; transplantation
5.  The Frequency, Clinical Significance, and Pathological Features of Chronic Chorioamnionitis: A Lesion Associated with Spontaneous Preterm Birth 
Acute chorioamnionitis (ACA) is a well-established lesion of the placenta in cases with intra-amniotic infection. In contrast, the clinicopathologic significance of chronic chorioamnionitis (CCA) is unclear. This study was conducted to determine the frequency and severity of CCA in normal pregnancy and various pregnancy complications. Placentas from the following patient groups were studied: 1) term not in labor (TNL; n=100), 2) term in labor (TIL; n=100), 3) preterm labor (PTL; n=100), 4) preterm prelabor rupture of the membranes (PPROM; n=100), 5) preeclampsia at term (TPE; n=100), 6) preterm preeclampsia (PPE; n=100), and 7) small-for-gestational-age at term (SGA; n=100). Amniotic fluid CXCL10 concentration was measured in 64 patients. CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 mRNA expressions in the chorioamniotic membranes were assessed by real-time quantitative RT-PCR. The frequency of CCA in PTL and PPROM groups was 34% and 39%, respectively, which was higher than those of normal term placentas (TNL 19%, TIL 8%; p<0.05 each). The frequency of CCA in TPE, PPE and SGA groups was 23%, 16%, and 13%, respectively. Concomitant villitis of unknown etiology (VUE) was found in 38.2% and 35.9% of PTL and PPROM cases with CCA, respectively. Interestingly, the median gestational age of preterm CCA cases was higher than that of ACA cases (p<0.05). The median amniotic fluid CXCL10 concentration was higher in cases with CCA than in those without, in both PTL and PPROM groups (p<0.05 and p<0.01, respectively). CXCL9, CXCL10, and CXCL11 mRNA expression in the chorioamniotic membranes was also higher in CCA cases than in those without CCA (p<0.05). We propose that CCA defines a common placental pathologic lesion among the PTL and PPROM groups, especially in cases of late preterm birth. Its association with VUE and the chemokine profile in amniotic fluid suggests an immunological origin, akin to transplantation rejection and graft-versus-host disease in the chorioamniotic membranes.
PMCID: PMC3096929  PMID: 20348884
Chorioamnionitis; amniotic fluid; pregnancy; CXCL9; CXCL10; CXCL11
6.  Risk Factors for Uteroplacental Vascular Compromise and Inflammation 
To identify potentially modifiable risk factors of placental injury reflecting maternal uteroplacental vascular compromise (UPVC) and acute and chronic placental inflammation.
Study design
A prospective epidemiologic study was conducted. A total of 1270 placentas were characterized by gross and microscopic examination. Placental pathology was coded for features of amniotic fluid infection syndrome (AFIS), chronic villitis, UPVC, and fetal vascular obstructive lesions. Odds ratios between UPVC, the acute and the chronic inflammatory lesions, and risk factors of interest were calculated.
After adjusting for confounders, women with a history of preterm birth had 1.60 times the odds of chronic inflammation (95% CI: 1.10, 2.55). Women with a previous elective termination had 3.28 times the odds of acute inflammation (95% CI: 1.89, 5.70). The odds of chronic villitis increased with parity, while the odds of AFIS decreased with parity.
We have identified several predictors of UPVC, AFIS and chronic villitis. Further studies are needed to examine whether interventions to alter UPVC, AFIS and chronic villitis will lead to improved pregnancy outcomes.
PMCID: PMC2680821  PMID: 18771974
inflammation; pathology; placenta; preterm
7.  Characterization of the fetal blood transcriptome and proteome in maternal anti-fetal rejection: evidence of a distinct and novel type of human fetal systemic inflammatory response 
The human fetus is able to mount a systemic inflammatory response when exposed to microorganisms. This stereotypic response has been termed the “fetal inflammatory response syndrome” (FIRS), defined as an elevation of fetal plasma interleukin-6 (IL-6). FIRS is frequently observed in patients who delivered preterm associated with intra-amniotic infection (IAI), acute inflammatory lesions in the placenta, and a high rate of neonatal morbidity. Recently, a novel form of fetal systemic inflammation, characterized by an elevation of fetal plasma CXCL10, has been identified in patients with placental lesions suggestive of “maternal anti-fetal rejection”. These lesions include chronic chorioamnionitis, plasma cell deciduitis and villitis of unknown etiology (VUE). In addition, a seropositivity for HLA panel-reactive antibodies (PRA) in maternal sera can also be used as an index of suspicious for “maternal anti-fetal rejection”. The purpose of this study was to determine: 1) the frequency of pathologic evidence of “maternal anti-fetal rejection” in term and spontaneous preterm births; 2) the fetal serum concentration of CXCL10 in patients with and without evidence of maternal anti-fetal rejection; and 3) the fetal blood transcriptome and proteome in pregnancy with evidence of fetal inflammatory response associated with maternal anti-fetal rejection.
Maternal and fetal sera were obtained from normal term birth (N=150) and spontaneous preterm births (N=150). Fetal inflammatory response associated with maternal anti-fetal rejection was diagnosed when the patients met two or more of the following criteria: 1) presence of chronic placental inflammation; 2) ≥80% of maternal HLA class I panel-reactive antibody (PRA) seropositivity; and 3) fetal serum CXCL10 concentration > 75th percentile of normal. Maternal HLA PRA was analyzed by flow cytometry. The concentration of fetal CXCL10 and IL-6 were determined by ELISA. Transcriptome analysis was undertaken after extraction of total RNA from white blood cells with a whole-genome DASL assay. Proteomic analysis of fetal serum was conducted by two-dimensional difference gel electrophoresis. Differential gene expression was considered significant when there was a p<0.01 and a fold-change >1.5.
1) The frequency of placental lesions consistent with maternal anti-fetal rejection was higher in patients with preterm delivery than in those with term delivery (56% vs. 32%; P<0.001); 2) patients with spontaneous preterm births had a higher rate of maternal HLA PRA class I positivity than those who delivered at term (50% vs. 32%; P=0.002); 3) fetuses who were born to mothers with positive maternal HLA PRA results had a higher median serum CXCL10 concentration than in those with negative HLA PRA results (P<0.001); 4) the median serum CXCL10 concentration (but not IL-6) was higher in fetuses with placental lesions associated with maternal anti-fetal rejection than in those without such lesions (P<0.001); 5) a whole-genome DASL assay of fetal blood RNA demonstrated differential expression of 128 genes between fetuses with and without fetal inflammatory response associated with maternal anti-fetal rejection; and 6) comparison of the fetal serum proteome demonstrated 20 proteins whose abundance differed between fetuses with and without fetal inflammatory response associated with maternal anti-fetal rejection.
We describe systemic inflammatory response in the fetus born to mothers with evidence of maternal anti-fetal rejection. Using high-dimensional biology techniques, the transcriptome and proteome of this novel type of fetal inflammatory response demonstrated the distinct profile from FIRS type I (which is associated with acute infection). This information is crucial to gain a mechanistic understanding of the syndrome as well as to identify biomarkers for this condition.
PMCID: PMC3939790  PMID: 23905683
anti-HLA panel-reactive antibody; apolipoprotein C-III; CD34; CXCL10; chronic placental inflammation; pregnancy; proteome; transcriptome
8.  Association Between Stillbirth and Risk Factors Known at Pregnancy Confirmation 
JAMA : the journal of the American Medical Association  2011;306(22):10.1001/jama.2011.1798.
Stillbirths account for almost half of US deaths from 20 weeks’ gestation to 1 year of life. Most large studies of risk factors for stillbirth use vital statistics with limited data.
To determine the relation between stillbirths and risk factors that could be ascertained at the start of pregnancy, particularly the contribution of these factors to racial disparities.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Multisite population-based case-control study conducted between March 2006 and September 2008. Fifty-nine US tertiary care and community hospitals, with access to at least 90% of deliveries within 5 catchment areas defined by state and county lines, enrolled residents with deliveries of 1 or more stillborn fetuses and a representative sample of deliveries of only live-born infants, over-sampled for those at less than 32 weeks’ gestation and those of African descent.
Main Outcome Measure
Analysis included 614 case and 1816 control deliveries. In multivariate analyses, the following factors were independently associated with stillbirth: non-Hispanic black race/ethnicity (23.1% stillbirths, 11.2% live births) (vs non-Hispanic whites; adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 2.12 [95% CI, 1.41–3.20]); previous stillbirth (6.7% stillbirths, 1.4% live births); nulliparity with (10.5% stillbirths, 5.2% live births) and without (34.0% stillbirths, 29.7% live births) previous losses at fewer than 20 weeks’ gestation (vs multiparity without stillbirth or previous losses; AOR, 5.91 [95% CI, 3.18–11.00]; AOR, 3.13 [95% CI, 2.06–4.75]; and AOR, 1.98 [95% CI, 1.51–2.60], respectively); diabetes (5.6% stillbirths, 1.6% live births) (vs no diabetes; AOR, 2.50 [95% CI, 1.39–4.48]); maternal age 40 years or older (4.5% stillbirths, 2.1% live births) (vs age 20–34 years; AOR, 2.41 [95% CI, 1.24–4.70]); maternal AB blood type (4.9% stillbirths, 3.0% live births) (vs type O; AOR, 1.96 [95% CI, 1.16–3.30]); history of drug addiction (4.5% stillbirths, 2.1% live births) (vs never use; AOR, 2.08 [95% CI, 1.12–3.88]); smoking during the 3 months prior to pregnancy (<10 cigarettes/d, 10.0% stillbirths, 6.5% live births) (vs none; AOR, 1.55 [95% CI, 1.02–2.35]); obesity/overweight (15.5% stillbirths, 12.4% live births) (vs normal weight; AOR, 1.72 [95% CI, 1.22–2.43]); not living with a partner (25.4% stillbirths, 15.3% live births) (vs married; AOR, 1.62 [95% CI, 1.15–2.27]); and plurality (6.4% stillbirths, 1.9% live births) (vs singleton; AOR, 4.59 [95% CI, 2.63–8.00]). The generalized R2 was 0.19, explaining little of the variance.
Multiple risk factors that would have been known at the time of pregnancy confirmation were associated with stillbirth but accounted for only a small amount of the variance in this outcome.
PMCID: PMC3807602  PMID: 22166606
9.  Bridging the Gaps Between the Histopathological and Demographic Risk Factors of Preterm Birth in a Unique Miami Inner-City Population 
Fetal and Pediatric Pathology  2014;33(4):226-233.
We aim to identify the link between placental histological findings and obstetric reports to determine possible risk factors of spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB). We prospectively ascertained birth records and outcomes from all deliveries in our hospital in 1 year. Records were used to determine and stratify for either full-term or preterm [spontaneous or indicated (I)] deliveries. We analyzed for risk factor association using χ2 tests and common odds ratio estimates (SPSS v21.0). Our cohort totaled 6088 deliveries: 236 IPTB, 43 SPTB, and 5809 term births. Largely Hispanic, we determined race, parity, prenatal care access, preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and BMI to be highly associated with SPTB (p < 0.01). Histologically, placentas of women with SPTB were twice as likely to have chronic villitis. We found that chronic villitis is associated with SPTB. Results of this study can be used in increasing the understanding of SPTB.
PMCID: PMC4086234  PMID: 24833307
chronic villitis; obstetrics; premature; placenta; spontaneous preterm birth
10.  Fetal Growth and Risk of Stillbirth: A Population-Based Case–Control Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001633.
Radek Bukowski and colleagues conducted a case control study in 59 US hospitals to determine the relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth, and find that both restrictive and excessive growth could play a role.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Stillbirth is strongly related to impaired fetal growth. However, the relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth is difficult to determine because of uncertainty in the timing of death and confounding characteristics affecting normal fetal growth.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a population-based case–control study of all stillbirths and a representative sample of live births in 59 hospitals in five geographic areas in the US. Fetal growth abnormalities were categorized as small for gestational age (SGA) (<10th percentile) or large for gestational age (LGA) (>90th percentile) at death (stillbirth) or delivery (live birth) using population, ultrasound, and individualized norms. Gestational age at death was determined using an algorithm that considered the time-of-death interval, postmortem examination, and reliability of the gestational age estimate. Data were weighted to account for the sampling design and differential participation rates in various subgroups. Among 527 singleton stillbirths and 1,821 singleton live births studied, stillbirth was associated with SGA based on population, ultrasound, and individualized norms (odds ratio [OR] [95% CI]: 3.0 [2.2 to 4.0]; 4.7 [3.7 to 5.9]; 4.6 [3.6 to 5.9], respectively). LGA was also associated with increased risk of stillbirth using ultrasound and individualized norms (OR [95% CI]: 3.5 [2.4 to 5.0]; 2.3 [1.7 to 3.1], respectively), but not population norms (OR [95% CI]: 0.6 [0.4 to 1.0]). The associations were stronger with more severe SGA and LGA (<5th and >95th percentile). Analyses adjusted for stillbirth risk factors, subset analyses excluding potential confounders, and analyses in preterm and term pregnancies showed similar patterns of association. In this study 70% of cases and 63% of controls agreed to participate. Analysis weights accounted for differences between consenting and non-consenting women. Some of the characteristics used for individualized fetal growth estimates were missing and were replaced with reference values. However, a sensitivity analysis using individualized norms based on the subset of stillbirths and live births with non-missing variables showed similar findings.
Stillbirth is associated with both growth restriction and excessive fetal growth. These findings suggest that, contrary to current practices and recommendations, stillbirth prevention strategies should focus on both severe SGA and severe LGA pregnancies.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Pregnancy is usually a happy time, when the parents-to-be anticipate the arrival of a new baby. But, sadly, about 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage—the early loss of a fetus (developing baby) that is unable to survive independently. Other pregnancies end in stillbirth—fetal death after 20 weeks of pregnancy (in the US; after 24 weeks in the UK). Stillbirths, like miscarriages, are common. In the US, for example, one in every 160 pregnancies ends in stillbirth. How women discover that their unborn baby has died varies. Some women simply know something is wrong and go to hospital to have their fears confirmed. Others find out when a routine check-up detects no fetal heartbeat. Most women give birth naturally after their baby has died, but if the mother's health is at risk, labor may be induced. Common causes of stillbirth include birth defects and infections. Risk factors for stillbirth include being overweight and smoking during pregnancy.
Why Was This Study Done?
Stillbirths are often associated with having a “small for gestational age” (SGA) fetus. Gestation is the period during which a baby develops in its mother's womb. Gestational age is estimated from the date of the woman's last menstrual period and/or from ultrasound scans. An SGA fetus is lighter than expected for its age based on observed distributions (norms) of fetal weights for gestational age. Although stillbirth is clearly associated with impaired fetal growth, the exact relationship between fetal growth and stillbirth remains unclear for two reasons. First, studies investigating this relationship have used gestational age at delivery rather than gestational age at death as an estimate of fetal age, which overestimates the gestational age of stillbirths and leads to errors in estimates of the proportions of SGA and “large for gestational age” (LGA) stillbirths. Second, many characteristics that affect normal fetal growth are also associated with the risk of stillbirth, and this has not been allowed for in previous studies. In this population-based case–control study, the researchers investigate the fetal growth abnormalities associated with stillbirth using a new approach to estimate gestational age and accounting for the effect of characteristics that affect both fetal growth and stillbirth. A population-based case–control study compares the characteristics of patients with a condition in a population with those of unaffected people in the same population.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers investigated all the stillbirths and a sample of live births that occurred over 2.5 years at 59 hospitals in five US regions. They used a formula developed by the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network to calculate the gestational age at death of the stillbirths. They categorized fetuses as SGA if they had a weight for gestational age within the bottom 10% (below the 10th percentile) of the population and as LGA if they had a weight for gestational age above the 90th percentile at death (stillbirth) or delivery (live birth) using population, ultrasound, and individualized norms of fetal weight for gestational age. Population norms incorporate weights for gestational age from normal pregnancies and from pregnancies complicated by growth abnormalities, whereas the other two norms include weights for gestational age from normal pregnancies only. Having an SGA fetus was associated with a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of stillbirth compared to having a fetus with “appropriate” weight for gestational age based on all three norms. LGA was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth based on the ultrasound and individualized norms but not the population norms. Being more severely SGA or LGA (below the 5th percentile or above the 95th percentile) was associated with an increased risk of stillbirth.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, when the time of death is accounted for and norms for weight for gestational age only from uncomplicated pregnancies are used, stillbirth is associated with both restricted and excessive fetal growth. Overall, abnormal fetal growth was identified in 25% of stillbirths using population norms and in about 50% of stillbirths using ultrasound or individualized norms. Although the accuracy of these findings is likely to be affected by aspects of the study design, these findings suggest that, contrary to current practices, strategies designed to prevent stillbirth should focus on identifying both severely SGA and severely LGA fetuses and should use norms for the calculation of weight for gestational age based on normal pregnancies only. Such an approach has the potential to identify almost half of the pregnancies likely to result in stillbirth.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization for pregnancy and baby health, provides information on stillbirth
Tommy's, a UK nonprofit organization that funds research into stillbirth, premature birth, and miscarriage and provides information for parents-to-be, also provides information on stillbirth (including personal stories)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information about stillbirth (including a video about dealing with grief after a stillbirth)
MedlinePlus provides links to other resources about stillbirth (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Stillbirth Collaborative Research Network is available
PMCID: PMC3995658  PMID: 24755550
11.  The Involvement of Human Amnion in Histologic Chorioamnionitis is an Indicator that a Fetal and an Intra-Amniotic Inflammatory Response is More Likely and Severe: Clinical Implications 
Placenta  2008;30(1):56-61.
Amnionitis (inflammation of the amnion) is the final stage of extra-placental chorioamniotic inflammation. We propose that patients with “amnionitis”, rather than “chorionitis” have a more advanced form of intra-uterine inflammation/infection and, thus, would have a more intense fetal and intra-amniotic inflammatory response than those without “amnionitis”.
Study design
The relationship between the presence of amnionitis, and a fetal and an intra-amniotic inflammatory response was examined in 290 singleton preterm births (36 weeks) with histologic chorioamnionitis. The fetal inflammatory response was determined by plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations in umbilical cord and the presence of funisitis. The intra-amniotic inflammatory response was assessed by matrix metalloproteinase-8 (MMP-8) concentration and white blood cell (WBC) count in 156 amniotic fluid (AF) samples obtained within 5 days of birth. AF was cultured for aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and genital mycoplasmas. The CRP concentration was measured with a highly sensitive immunoassay.
(1) Amnionitis was present in 43.1% of cases with histologic chorioamnionitis. (2) Patients with amnionitis had a significantly higher rate of funisitis and positive AF culture and a higher median umbilical cord plasma CRP, AF MMP-8 level and AF WBC count than those without amnionitis (p < 0.001 for each). (3) Among cases with amnionitis, the presence or absence of funisitis was not associated with significant differences in the median cord plasma CRP, AF MMP-8 level and AF WBC count. (4) However, the presence of amnionitis in cases with funisitis was associated with a higher median umbilical cord plasma CRP, AF MMP-8 level and AF WBC count than the absence of amnionitis in those with funisitis (p < 0.05 for each). (5) Multiple logistic regression analysis demonstrated that amnionitis was a better independent predictor of proven or suspected early-onset neonatal sepsis (odds ratio 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.1–13.2, p < 0.05) than funisitis (odds ratio 1.8, 95% CI 0.5–6.1, not significant) after correction for the contribution of other potential confounding variables.
The involvement of the amnion in the inflammatory process of the extraplacental membranes is associated with a more intense fetal and intra-amniotic inflammatory response than chorionitis alone. This observation has clinical implications because it allows staging of the severity of the inflammatory process and assessment of the likelihood of fetal involvement.
PMCID: PMC4136806  PMID: 19046766
12.  Severe preeclampsia is characterized by increased placental expression of galectin-1 
Galectin-1 is a major anti-inflammatory protein expressed by the placenta and immune cells that can bias the character of inflammatory responses toward the Th2 type. Galectin-1 is expressed in immune privileged sites, it can facilitate immune tolerance and tumor immune escape, and it has been successfully used for the suppression of experimental autoimmune diseases as well as graft versus host disease in murine models. We propose that an abnormal immune response in some pregnancy complications may be associated with changes in placental expression of galectin-1. To test this hypothesis, we studied placental galectin-1 mRNA and protein expression and localization in women with preeclampsia (PE) and in those who delivered a small-for-gestational age (SGA) neonate.
Study design
This cross-sectional study included pregnant women matched for gestational age at delivery in the following groups: 1) severe PE (n=10); 2) severe PE complicated with SGA (n=10); 3) SGA without PE (n=10); and 4) controls (n=10). Galectin-1 mRNA and protein were localized in placentas by in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence microscopy. Galectin-1 mRNA expression was determined by quantitative real-time RT-PCR, and galectin-1 protein content by Western blot. Non-parametric statistics were used for analysis.
1) In normal term placentas, galectin-1 mRNA or immunofluorescence signals were detected in the trophoblasts, villous stromal cells, Hofbauer cells, endothelial cells of the villous blood vessels,,and the villous stroma. 2) Placental galectin-1 mRNA expression was significantly higher in severe PE (with or without SGA) than in controls (1.47 fold, p=0.004; 1.44 fold, p=0.003; respectively] and in SGA (1.68 fold, p=0.001; 1.64 fold, p=0.001; respectively]. 3) Trophoblasts in placentas of patients with severe PE had the most intense galectin-1 immunostaining.
1) We report for the first time the placental expression and localization of galectin-1 mRNA and demonstrate that the protein is abundantly present in third trimester human placentas. 2) Placental galectin-1 expression is higher in severe PE than in normal pregnancy regardless of the presence of SGA. 3) However, it is not altered in SGA without PE. We propose that the increased placental expression of galectin-1 in patients with severe PE may represent a fetal response to an exaggerated systemic maternal inflammation; thus, galectin-1 may be implicated in maternal-fetal immune tolerance in humans.
PMCID: PMC2775462  PMID: 18570123
glycocode; inflammation; lectin; pregnancy; semi-allograft; tolerance; trophoblast
13.  The frequency and risk factors of funisitis and histologic chorioamnionitis in pregnant women at term who delivered after the spontaneous onset of labor 
To examine the frequency and risk factors of funisitis and histologic chorioamnionitis in the placentas of term pregnant women who delivered after the spontaneous onset of labor.
The frequency of funisitis and histologic chorioamnionitis was examined in consecutive pregnant women at term with singleton pregnancies who delivered after the spontaneous onset of labor. Nonparametric statistics were used for data analysis.
1) The frequency of funisitis and histologic chorioamnionitis was 6.7% (88/1316) and 23.6% (310/1316), respectively; 2) Patients with funisitis had significantly higher rates of nulliparity, regional analgesia, operative vaginal delivery, longer duration of labor and rupture of membranes (ROM), and higher gestational age and birthweight than those without funisitis (p<0.05 for each); 3) Patients with histologic chorioamnionitis had significantly higher rates of nulliparity, oxytocin augmentation, regional analgesia, cesarean section or operative vaginal delivery, longer duration of labor and ROM, and higher gestational age and birthweight than those without histologic chorioamnionitis (p<0.05 for each); 4) Multiple logistic regression analysis indicated that the longer duration of labor, the higher the risk of funisitis, and that nulliparity and longer duration of labor significantly increased the odds of histologic chorioamnionitis (p<0.05 for each).
The longer the duration of labor, the higher the risk of funisitis and histologic chorioamnionitis in pregnant women at term who delivered after the spontaneous onset of labor.
PMCID: PMC3163442  PMID: 20698737
infection; inflammation; nulliparity; duration of labor; prolonged labor; rupture of membranes; pregnancy
14.  Factors Associated with Pediatric Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the United States: Results from the National Health Interview Survey 
Pediatrics  2010;125(2):249-256.
Limited data are available on the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) by children and adolescents in the United States and factors associated with CAM use among the pediatric population.
Utilizing the 2007 National Health Interview Survey data among individuals less than 18 years of age (n=9417), we compared CAM users (excluding those using vitamins and minerals) and non-CAM users. Using bivariable and multivariable logistic regression models, we examined independent associations of CAM use with sociodemographic factors, prescription medication use, delays in health care due to access difficulties, and common medical conditions/symptoms.
In an adjusted multivariable logistic model, CAM users were more likely than non-CAM users to be: adolescents rather than infants or toddlers (adjusted odds ratio, AOR 1.61 [1.11–2.34]); live in the West (AOR 2.05 [1.62–2.59]), Northeast (AOR 1.36 [1.02–1.80]), or Midwest (AOR 1.35 [1.04–1.74]) compared to the South; more likely to have a parent with a college education (AOR 4.33 (2.92–6.42)) and more likely to use prescription medication (AOR 1.51 [1.19–1.92]). Pediatric CAM users were more likely to have the following medical conditions/symptoms: anxiety or stress (AOR 2.54 [1.89–3.42]), dermatologic conditions (AOR 1.35 [1.03–1.78]), musculoskeletal conditions (AOR 1.94 [1.31–2.87]), and sinusitis (AOR 1.54 [1.11–2.14]). Use of CAM by a parent was strongly associated with the child’s use of CAM (AOR 3.83 [3.04–4.84]).
In 2007, pediatric CAM users were more likely to take prescription medications, have a parent that used CAM, and have chronic conditions such as anxiety or stress, musculoskeletal conditions, dermatologic conditions, or sinusitis. Research is required to guide pediatricians in making recommendations on CAM modalities for children including potential risk and/or benefits, and interactions with conventional therapies.
PMCID: PMC3057373  PMID: 20100769
complementary therapies; infant; child; adolescent
15.  Endocrine Profiles, Haematology and Pregnancy Outcomes of Late Pregnant Holstein Dairy Heifers Sired by Bulls Giving a High or Low Incidence of Stillbirth 
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica  2004;45(1):47-68.
The high incidence of stillbirth in Swedish Holstein heifers has increased continuously during the last 15 years to an average of 11% today. The pathological reasons behind the increased incidence of stillbirth are unknown. The present experiment was undertaken to investigate possible causes of stillbirth and to study possible physiological markers for predicting stillbirth. Twenty Swedish Holstein dairy heifers sired by bulls with breeding values for a high risk of stillbirth (n = 12) (experimental group) and a low risk of stillbirth (n = 8) (control group, group B) were selected based on information in the Swedish AI-data base. The experimental group consisted of 2 subgroups of heifers (groups A1 and A2) inseminated with 2 different bulls with 3.5% and 9% higher stillbirth rates than the average, and the control group consisted of heifers pregnant with 5 different bulls with 0%–6% lower stillbirth rates than the average. The bull used for group A1 had also calving difficulties due to large calves as compared to the bull in group A2 showing no calving difficulties. The heifers were supervised from 6–7 months of pregnancy up to birth, and the pregnancies and parturitions were compared between groups regarding hormonal levels, haematology, placental characteristics and calf viability. In group A1, 1 stillborn, 1 weak and 4 normal calves were recorded. In group A2, 2 stillborn and 4 normal calves were registered. All animals in the control group gave birth to a normal living calf without any assistance. The weak calf showed deviating profiles of body temperature, saturated oxygen and heart rates, compared with the normal living calves. No differences of the placentome thickness, measured in vivo by ultrasonography were seen between the groups. The number of leukocytes and differential cell counts in groups A1 and A2 followed the profiles found in the control group. In group A1, a slight decrease of oestrone sulphate (E1SO4) levels was found in the animal delivering a stillborn calf from the first 24-h blood sampling at 6 weeks to the second at 3 weeks prior to delivery, while the levels of E1SO4 at both periods in the animal delivering a weak calf followed the profile in animals delivering a normal living calf. During late pregnancy and at the time of parturition, the levels of E1SO4 and PAGs in animals delivering a stillborn or weak calf (from group A1) followed the normal profiles found in animals delivering a normal living calf. In group A2, low levels of E1SO4 and pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs) over 24 h at both 3 and 6 weeks prior to parturition (<1.5 nmol/L) were recorded in animals delivering a stillborn calf. During late pregnancy and parturition, the levels of E1SO4 and PAGs were slightly lower during 30–50 days prior to delivery and increased with a lower magnitude at the time of parturition. In conclusion, our results indicate that the aetiology behind stillbirth varies depending on the AI-bulls used and is associated with dystocia or low viability of the calves. Deviating profiles of oestrone sulphate (E1SO4) and pregnancy associated glycoproteins (PAGs) in animals delivering a stillborn calf not caused by dystocia were observed, suggesting placental dysfunction as a possible factor. The finding suggests that the analyses of E1SO4 and PAGs could be used for monitoring foetal well-being in animals with a high risk of stillbirth at term.
PMCID: PMC1820998  PMID: 15535086
Cattle-pregnancy; parturition; endocrine profiles; haematology; placental characteristics; foetal well-being
16.  Histologic Characteristics of the Fetal Inflammatory Response Associated with Neurodevelopmental Impairment and Death in Extremely Preterm Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(3):652-657.e2.
To test the hypothesis that increasing severity of the fetal inflammatory response would have a dose-dependent relationship with severe neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) or death in extremely preterm infants.
Study design
We report 347 infants 23 to 28 weeks gestational age admitted to a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit between 2006 and 2008. The primary outcome was death or NDI at 18–22 month follow-up. Exposure status was defined by increasing stage of funisitis (stage 1: phlebitis; stage 2: arteritis with or without phlebitis; stage 3: subacute necrotizing funisitis) and severity of chorionic plate vasculitis (inflammation with or without thrombosis).
A fetal inflammatory response was detected in 110 placentas (32%). Severe NDI/death rate was higher in infants with subacute necrotizing funisitis compared with infants without placental/umbilical cord inflammation (60% vs. 35%; p<0.05). Among infants with stage 1 or 2 funisitis, the presence of any chorionic vasculitis was associated with higher rates of severe NDI/death (47% vs. 23%; p<0.05). After adjustment for confounding factors, only subacute necrotizing funisitis (RR: 1.87; 95% CI: 1.04 – 3.35; p=0.04) and chorionic plate vasculitis with thrombosis (RR: 2.21; 95% CI: 1.10 – 4.46; p=0.03) were associated with severe NDI/death.
Severe fetal inflammatory response characterized by subacute necrotizing funisitis and severe chorionic plate vasculitis with thrombosis are associated with severe NDI/death in preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC3744601  PMID: 23664630
chorioamnionitis; infant; premature; prognosis; funisitis; chorionic plate vasculitis
17.  Expression of MHC class II antigens by placental villi: no relationship with villitis of unknown origin. 
Journal of Clinical Pathology  1995;48(5):494-495.
The aim of the study was to determine whether immunoreactivity to major histo-compatibility complex (MHC) class II antigens studied by immunohisto-chemistry could be used reliably to define villitis lesions in placenta. Eighteen placental sections with villitis and 32 without, as determined in a careful observer reproducibility study, were immunolabelled with a monoclonal antibody to monomorphic determinants of MHC class II antigens (CR3/43), using a standard avidin-biotin peroxidase technique. Placentas with villitis were found to express MHC class II antigens. However, some showed no immunoreactivity. Occasional villi unaffected by villitis, including those near placental infarcts, also expressed MHC class II antigens. The study therefore showed that immunohistochemistry cannot be used to define villitis of unknown aetiology. It provides further evidence of the difficulties that can arise when immunohistochemistry conflicts with previous light microscopy findings.
PMCID: PMC502634  PMID: 7629302
18.  Patterns of placental pathology in preterm premature rupture of membranes 
Inflammation is associated with preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and adverse neonatal outcomes. Subchorionic thrombi, with or without inflammation, may also be a significant pathological finding in PPROM. Patterns of inflammation and thrombosis may give insight into mechanisms of adverse neonatal outcomes associated with PPROM. To characterize histologic findings of placentas from pregnancies complicated by PPROM at altitude, 44 placentas were evaluated for gross and histological indicators of inflammation and thrombosis. Student’s t-test (or Mann–Whitney U-test), χ2 analysis (or Fisher’s exact test), mean square contingency and logistic regression were used when appropriate. The prevalence of histologic acute chorioamnionitis (HCA) was 59%. Fetal-derived inflammation (funisitis and chorionic plate vasculitis) was seen at lower frequency (30% and 45%, respectively) and not always in association with HCA. There was a trend for Hispanic women to have higher odds of funisitis (OR = 5.9; P = 0.05). Subchorionic thrombi were seen in 34% of all placentas. The odds of subchorionic thrombi without HCA was 6.3 times greater that the odds of subchorionic thrombi with HCA (P = 0.02). There was no difference in gestational age or rupture-to-delivery interval, with the presence or absence of inflammatory or thrombotic lesions. These findings suggest that PPROM is caused by or can result in fetal inflammation, placental malperfusion, or both, independent of gestational age or rupture-to-delivery interval; maternal ethnicity and altitude may contribute to these findings. Future studies focused on this constellation of PPROM placental findings, genetic polymorphisms and neonatal outcomes are needed.
PMCID: PMC3698858  PMID: 23828732
altitude; chorioamnionitis; fetal inflammatory response; funisitis; subchorionic thrombi
Heat shock protein (HSP) 70, a conserved member of the stress protein family, is produced in almost all cell types in response to a wide range of stressful stimuli and their production has a survival value. Evidence suggests that extra-cellular HSP70 is involved in the activation of the innate and adaptive immune response. Furthermore, increased mRNA expression of HSP 70 was observed in human fetal membranes following endotoxin stimulation. This study was conducted to determine the changes in amniotic fluid HSP70 concentrations during pregnancy, term and preterm parturition, intra-amniotic infection (IAI), and histologic chorioamnionitis.
Study design
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 376 pregnant women in the following groups: 1) women with a normal pregnancy that were classified in the following categories: a) women in the mid-trimester (14–18 weeks) who underwent amniocentesis for genetic indications and delivered normal infants at term (n=72); b) women at term not in labor (n=23); and c) those at term in labor (n=48); 2) women with spontaneous preterm labor and intact membranes that were subdivided into the following categories: a) preterm labor who delivered at term without IAI (n=42), b) preterm labor who delivered preterm without IAI (n=57), and c) preterm labor and delivery with IAI (n=30); and 3) women with preterm prelabor rupture of membranes (PROM) with (n=50) and without (n=54) IAI. Among patients with preterm labor with intact membranes and preterm PROM who delivered within 72 hours of amniocentesis, placenta, umbilical cord and chorioamniotic membranes were collected and assessed for the presence or absence of acute inflammatory lesions in the extra-placental membranes (histologic chorioamnionitis) and/or umbilical cords (funisitis). HSP70 concentrations in amniotic fluid were determined using a sensitive and specific immunoassay. Non-parametric statistics were used for analysis. A p value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Immunoreactive HSP70 was detected in 88% (332/376) of amniotic fluid samples. The median amniotic fluid HSP70 concentration was significantly higher in women at term without labor than in those in the mid-trimester (term no labor; median 34.9 ng/mL, range 0–78.1 ng/mL vs. mid-trimester; median 6.6 ng/mL, range 0–20.8 ng/mL; p<0.001). Among patients with spontaneous preterm labor and preterm PROM, those with IAI had a significantly higher median amniotic fluid HSP70 concentration than those without IAI (preterm labor with IAI: median 82.9 ng/ml, range 0–500 ng/ml vs. preterm labor without IAI: median 41.7 ng/ml, range 0–244 ng/ml; p=0.001; preterm PROM with IAI: median 86.5 ng/ml, range 0–428 ng/ml, vs. preterm PROM without IAI: median 55.9 ng/ml, range 14.9–299.9 ng/mL; p=0.007). There was no significant difference in the median amniotic fluid HSP70 concentration between patients with preterm labor who delivered preterm without IAI and those who delivered at term (p=0.6). However, among patients with preterm labor without IAI, there was an inverse relationship between amniotic fluid concentration of HSP70 and the amniocentesis-to-spontaneous delivery interval (Spearman’s Rho = −0.26; p=0.02). Patients with histologic chorioamnionitis/funisitis had a significantly higher median amniotic fluid HSP70 concentration than those without inflammation (inflammation: median 108.7 ng/ml, range 0–500 ng/ml vs. without inflammation: median 67.9 ng/ml, range 7.1–299.9 ng/ml; p=0.02). Women at term in labor had a median amniotic fluid concentration of HSP70 significantly higher than those not in labor (term in labor: median 60.7 ng/ml, range 0–359.9 ng/ml vs. term not in labor: median 34.9 ng/ml, range 0–78.1 ng/ml; p=0.02).
Intra-amniotic infection, histologic chorioamnionitis and term parturition are associated with elevated amniotic fluid HSP70 concentration. HSP70 plays a role in the host defense mechanism by activating the innate arm of the immune response in women with intrauterine infection. The mechanisms of preterm and term parturition in human may involve extra-cellular HSP 70.
PMCID: PMC2517420  PMID: 18570125
HSP70; intra-amniotic infection; preterm labor; preterm prelabor rupture of membranes; histologic chorioamnionitis; parturition
20.  A Signature of Maternal Anti-Fetal Rejection in Spontaneous Preterm Birth: Chronic Chorioamnionitis, Anti-Human Leukocyte Antigen Antibodies, and C4d 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16806.
Chronic chorioamnionitis is found in more than one-third of spontaneous preterm births. Chronic chorioamnionitis and villitis of unknown etiology represent maternal anti-fetal cellular rejection. Antibody-mediated rejection is another type of transplantation rejection. We investigated whether there was evidence for antibody-mediated rejection against the fetus in spontaneous preterm birth.
Methods and Findings
This cross-sectional study included women with (1) normal pregnancy and term delivery (n = 140) and (2) spontaneous preterm delivery (n = 140). We analyzed maternal and fetal sera for panel-reactive anti-HLA class I and class II antibodies, and determined C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium by immunohistochemistry. Maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity in spontaneous preterm births was higher than in normal term births (48.6% vs. 32.1%, p = 0.005). Chronic chorioamnionitis was associated with a higher maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity (p<0.01), significant in preterm and term birth. Villitis of unknown etiology was associated with increased maternal and fetal anti-HLA class I and II seropositivity (p<0.05, for each). Fetal anti-HLA seropositivity was closely related to maternal anti-HLA seropositivity in both groups (p<0.01, for each). C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium was more frequent in preterm labor than term labor (77.1% vs. 11.4%, p<0.001). Logistic regression analysis revealed that chronic chorioamnionitis (OR = 6.10, 95% CI 1.29–28.83), maternal anti-HLA class I seropositivity (OR = 5.90, 95% CI 1.60–21.83), and C4d deposition on umbilical vein endothelium (OR = 36.19, 95% CI 11.42–114.66) were associated with preterm labor and delivery.
A major subset of spontaneous preterm births has a signature of maternal anti-fetal cellular and antibody-mediated rejections with links to fetal graft-versus-host disease and alloimmune reactions.
PMCID: PMC3033909  PMID: 21326865
21.  The Continuum of Maternal Sepsis Severity: Incidence and Risk Factors in a Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e67175.
To investigate the incidence and risk factors associated with uncomplicated maternal sepsis and progression to severe sepsis in a large population-based birth cohort.
This retrospective cohort study used linked hospital discharge and vital statistics records data for 1,622,474 live births in California during 2005–2007. Demographic and clinical factors were adjusted using multivariable logistic regression with robust standard errors.
1598 mothers developed sepsis; incidence of all sepsis was 10 per 10,000 live births (95% CI = 9.4–10.3). Women had significantly increased adjusted odds (aOR) of developing sepsis if they were older (25–34 years: aOR = 1.29; ≥35 years: aOR = 1.41), had ≤high-school education (aOR = 1.63), public/no-insurance (aOR = 1.22) or a cesarean section (primary: aOR = 1.99; repeat: aOR = 1.25). 791 women progressed to severe sepsis; incidence of severe sepsis was 4.9 per 10,000 live births (95% CI = 4.5–5.2). Women had significantly increased adjusted odds of progressing to severe sepsis if they were Black (aOR = 2.09), Asian (aOR = 1.59), Hispanic (aOR = 1.42), had public/no-insurance (aOR = 1.52), delivered in hospitals with <1,000 births/year (aOR = 1.93), were primiparous (aOR = 2.03), had a multiple birth (aOR = 3.5), diabetes (aOR = 1.47), or chronic hypertension (aOR = 8.51). Preeclampsia and postpartum hemorrhage were also significantly associated with progression to severe sepsis (aOR = 3.72; aOR = 4.18). For every cumulative factor, risk of uncomplicated sepsis increased by 25% (95% CI = 17.4–32.3) and risk of progression to severe sepsis/septic shock increased by 57% (95% CI = 40.8–74.4).
The rate of severe sepsis was approximately twice the 1991–2003 national estimate. Risk factors identified are relevant to obstetric practice given their cumulative risk effect and the apparent increase in severe sepsis incidence.
PMCID: PMC3699572  PMID: 23843991
22.  Group B Streptococcal Infection of the Choriodecidua Induces Dysfunction of the Cytokeratin Network in Amniotic Epithelium: A Pathway to Membrane Weakening 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(3):e1003920.
Early events leading to intrauterine infection remain poorly defined, but may hold the key to preventing preterm delivery. To determine molecular pathways within fetal membranes (chorioamnion) associated with early choriodecidual infection that may progress to preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM), we examined the effects of a Group B Streptococcus (GBS) choriodecidual infection on chorioamnion in a nonhuman primate model. Ten chronically catheterized pregnant monkeys (Macaca nemestrina) at 118–125 days gestation (term = 172 days) received choriodecidual inoculation of either GBS (n = 5) or saline (n = 5). Cesarean section was performed in the first week after GBS or saline inoculation. RNA extracted from chorioamnion (inoculation site) was profiled by microarray. Single gene, Gene Set, and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis results were validated using qRT-PCR (chorioamnion), Luminex (amniotic fluid, AF), immunohistochemistry, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Despite uterine quiescence in most cases, significant elevations of AF cytokines (TNF-α, IL-8, IL-1β, IL-6) were detected in GBS versus controls (p<0.05). Choriodecidual infection resolved by the time of cesarean section in 3 of 5 cases and GBS was undetectable by culture and PCR in the AF. A total of 331 genes were differentially expressed (>2-fold change, p<0.05). Remarkably, GBS exposure was associated with significantly downregulated expression of multiple cytokeratin (CK) and other cytoskeletal genes critical for maintenance of tissue tensile strength. Immunofluorescence revealed highly significant changes in the CK network within amniocytes with dense CK aggregates and retraction from the cell periphery (all p = 0.006). In human pregnancies affected by PPROM, there was further evidence of CK network retraction with significantly shorter amniocyte foot processes (p = 0.002). These results suggest early choriodecidual infection results in decreased cellular membrane integrity and tensile strength via dysfunction of CK networks. Downregulation of CK expression and perturbations in the amniotic epithelial cell intermediate filament network occur after GBS choriodecidual infection, which may contribute to PPROM.
Author Summary
Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is one cause of preterm birth, stillbirth, and fetal brain injury. GBS is present in the vagina and is thought to ascend into the uterus of some women where it can cause placental inflammation and preterm birth. Understanding the earliest events in the placenta that lead to preterm birth is elusive in humans, because the placenta cannot be studied until after birth. Here, we use a nonhuman primate model to show that an early GBS infection can damage the structural support of the fetal membranes, specifically the cytokeratin network in the epithelium of the amnion (one part of the membranes). Next, we obtained human placentas to show that this cytokeratin network was also damaged in human patients that had preterm premature rupture of the membranes, a major cause of preterm birth. Our work is important in understanding why fetal membranes may rupture prematurely, which may lead to early interventions to prevent membrane damage after placental infection and preterm birth.
PMCID: PMC3946355  PMID: 24603861
23.  Placental Pathology and Blood Pressure's Level in Women with Hypertensive Disorders in Pregnancy 
Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate the extent of placental lesions associated with blood pressure (BP) levels in pregnancies complicated by hypertension. Methods. 55 singleton pregnancies complicated by mild hypertension were recruited and compared to 55 pregnancies complicated by severe hypertension. The histological assessment was carried out with regard to the following aspects: vessels number/field of vision, infarction, villous fibrinoid necrosis, villous hypermaturity, avascular villi, calcifications, lymphohistiocytic villitis, and thickened vessels. Statistical analysis was performed by SPSS. Results. All placental lesions were observed more often in the severe hypertension group. Vessels number was significantly decreased, and infarction and villous fibrinoid necrosis were significantly increased in the placentas of the severe hypertension group compared to the mild hypertension group (P < 0.001). Conclusion. This study supports that the extent of placental lesions in hypertensive pregnancies is correlated with hypertension level and so highlights blood pressure level as a mirror of placental function.
PMCID: PMC3356772  PMID: 22645615
24.  The Consequences of Chorioamnionitis: Preterm Birth and Effects on Development 
Journal of Pregnancy  2013;2013:412831.
Preterm birth is a major cause of perinatal mortality and long-term morbidity. Chorioamnionitis is a common cause of preterm birth. Clinical chorioamnionitis, characterised by maternal fever, leukocytosis, tachycardia, uterine tenderness, and preterm rupture of membranes, is less common than subclinical/histologic chorioamnionitis, which is asymptomatic and defined by inflammation of the chorion, amnion, and placenta. Chorioamnionitis is often associated with a fetal inflammatory response. The fetal inflammatory response syndrome (FIRS) is defined by increased systemic inflammatory cytokine concentrations, funisitis, and fetal vasculitis. Clinical and epidemiological studies have demonstrated that FIRS leads to poor cardiorespiratory, neurological, and renal outcomes. These observations are further supported by experimental studies that have improved our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for these outcomes. This paper outlines clinical and experimental studies that have improved our current understanding of the mechanisms responsible for chorioamnionitis-induced preterm birth and explores the cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying poor cardiorespiratory, neural, retinal, and renal outcomes observed in preterm infants exposed to chorioamnionitis.
PMCID: PMC3606792  PMID: 23533760
25.  Risk Factors and Adverse Perinatal Outcomes among Term and Preterm Infants Born Small-for-Gestational-Age: Secondary Analyses of the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e105155.
Small for gestational age (SGA) is not only a major indicator of perinatal mortality and morbidity, but also the morbidity risks in later in life. We aim to estimate the association between the birth of SGA infants and the risk factors and adverse perinatal outcomes among twenty-nine countries in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia in 359 health facilities in 2010–11.
We analysed facility-based, cross-sectional data from the WHO Multi-country Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health. We constructed multilevel logistic regression models with random effects for facilities and countries to estimate the risk factors for SGA infants using country-specific birthweight reference standards in preterm and term delivery, and SGA’s association with adverse perinatal outcomes. We compared the risks and adverse perinatal outcomes with appropriate for gestational age (AGA) infants categorized by preterm and term delivery.
A total of 295,829 singleton infants delivered were analysed. The overall prevalence of SGA was highest in Cambodia (18.8%), Nepal (17.9%), the Occupied Palestinian Territory (16.1%), and Japan (16.0%), while the lowest was observed in Afghanistan (4.8%), Uganda (6.6%) and Thailand (9.7%). The risk of preterm SGA infants was significantly higher among nulliparous mothers and mothers with chronic hypertension and preeclampsia/eclampsia (aOR: 2.89; 95% CI: 2.55–3.28) compared with AGA infants. Higher risks of term SGA were observed among sociodemographic factors and women with preeclampsia/eclampsia, anaemia and other medical conditions. Multiparity (> = 3) (AOR: 0.88; 95% CI: 0.83–0.92) was a protective factor for term SGA. The risk of perinatal mortality was significantly higher in preterm SGA deliveries in low to high HDI countries.
Preterm SGA is associated with medical conditions related to preeclampsia, but not with sociodemographic status. Term SGA is associated with sociodemographic status and various medical conditions.
PMCID: PMC4132094  PMID: 25119107

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