The Journal of Maternal-fetal & Neonatal Medicine
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OBJECTIVES: To establish gender-specific differences in maternal and fetal immune response in healthy human fetuses at term.
METHODS: Forty-five women with elective caesarean sections for uncomplicated singleton pregnancies were recruited for two studies. Using a multiplex biomarker immunoassay system, unstimulated maternal and fetal plasma concentrations of interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-1ra, IL-6, IL-8, macrophage inflammatory protein (MIP)-1α, and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were measured from one study population. Lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-stimulated cytokine response was measured in a second study.
RESULTS: There were no significant gender differences in either maternal or fetal unstimulated plasma cytokine concentrations, but concentrations of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β and IL-6 were significantly greater in male fetal LPS-stimulated samples than in female fetal samples.
CONCLUSIONS: Blood of male fetuses mounts a larger pro-inflammatory response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS). This heightened response could be a critical pathway in promoting premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and may be associated with life long differential gender response to infection.