BACKGROUND - Preterm birth (PTB) is hypothesized to be an inflammatory response disease. However, no single factor alone is likely to explain PTB risk. It is more probable that coordinated networks of cytokines affect risk.
METHODS - Therefore, we examined the relationships between amniotic fluid (AF) cytokines/chemokines and related biomarkers in PTB and normal term deliveries in African Americans and Caucasians. Data were obtained from African American (41 preterm labor and 91 term labor) and Caucasian (105 preterm labor and 100 term labor) pregnant mothers. Pro-inflammatory cytokines and related molecules interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, IL-8, and tumor necrosis factor- (TNF)-alpha, TNF soluble receptors (sTNFR1 and sTNFR2), and anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 that were all previously associated with PTB were studied. Correlations between biomarkers were calculated; differences of correlation coefficients between AF from African American and Caucasian samples in preterm labor and term labor were measured.
RESULTS - Multiple differences were observed between African American and Caucasian preterm and term birth groups. In term birth the strongest differences were between pro- and anti-inflammatory correlations, whereas in PTB differences were equally distributed between pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory/pro-inflammatory correlations. Three correlation patterns differed significantly between AF from PTB African Americans with and without microbial invasion of the intra-amniotic cavity (MIAC); no differences were observed in Caucasians with MIAC.
CONCLUSION - Correlation analyses of cytokine measurements suggest coordinated interplay during pregnancy; significant differences exist between African Americans and Caucasians. Such analyses can serve as a means of understanding risk factors in these populations.