We investigated whether various inflammatory and immune proteins in plasma predict intra-amniotic infection and imminent preterm delivery in women with preterm labor and compared their predictive ability with that of amniotic fluid (AF) interleukin (IL)-6 and serum C-reactive protein (CRP).
This retrospective cohort study included 173 consecutive women with preterm labor who underwent amniocentesis for diagnosis of infection and/or inflammation in the AF. The AF was cultured, and assayed for IL-6. CRP levels and cervical length by transvaginal ultrasound were measured at the time of amniocentesis. The stored maternal plasma was assayed for IL-6, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9, and complements C3a and C5a using ELISA kits. The primary and secondary outcome criteria were positive AF cultures and spontaneous preterm delivery (SPTD) within 48 h, respectively. Univariate, multivariate, and receiver operating characteristic analysis were used for the statistical analysis.
In bivariate analyses, elevated plasma IL-6 level was significantly associated with intra-amniotic infection and imminent preterm delivery, whereas elevated plasma levels of MMP-9, C3a, and C5a were not associated with these two outcomes. On multivariate analyses, an elevated plasma IL-6 level was significantly associated with intra-amniotic infection and imminent preterm delivery after adjusting for confounders, including high serum CRP levels and short cervical length. In predicting intra-amniotic infection, the area under the curve (AUC) was significantly lower for plasma IL-6 than for AF IL-6 but was similar to that for serum CRP. Differences in the AUCs between plasma IL-6, AF IL-6, and serum CRP were not statistically significant in predicting imminent preterm delivery.
Maternal plasma IL-6 independently predicts intra-amniotic infection in women with preterm labor; however, it has worse diagnostic performance than that of AF IL-6 and similar performance to that of serum CRP. To predict imminent preterm delivery, plasma IL-6 had an overall diagnostic performance similar to that of AF IL-6 and serum CRP. Plasma MMP-9, C3a, and C5a levels could not predict intra-amniotic infection or imminent preterm delivery.