Lactoferrin in intrauterine infection, human parturition, and rupture of fetal membranes Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Objective: Lactoferrin is an iron-binding protein with antimicrobial properties. This study was undertaken to determine whether amniotic fluid concentrations of this protein change with gestational age, infection, labor, and rupture of membranes. Study Design: This cross-sectional study included women who underwent transabdominal amniocentesis (n = 268) in the following groups: (1) mid trimester of pregnancy; (2) preterm labor who delivered at term, preterm labor who delivered preterm with intra-amniotic infection, and preterm labor who delivered preterm without intra-amniotic infection; (3) preterm premature rupture of membranes in the presence or absence of intra-amniotic infection; (4) term with intact membranes not in labor, in labor, and in labor with intra-amniotic infection; and (5) premature rupture of membranes at term not in labor. In addition, lactoferrin concentrations were determined in maternal plasma and cord blood of patients at term not in labor. Lactoferrin concentration was measured with an immunoassay. Results: (1) Lactoferrin was detectable in 85.4% (229/268) of amniotic fluid samples, not detectable in all fluid obtained in the mid trimester, and detectable in all maternal and cord plasma samples. (2) The concentration of lactoferrin increased with advancing gestational age (r = 0.68; P < .0001). (3) Intra-amniotic infection was associated with significant increases in amniotic fluid lactoferrin concentrations in patients with preterm labor (no intra-amniotic infection median, 1641.2 ng/mL; range, <1.24-35,090.0 ng/mL; vs intra-amniotic infection median, 3833.6 ng/mL; range, 746.0-47,020.0 ng/mL; P < .001), term labor (no intra-amniotic infection median, 2085.8 ng/mL; range, 425.0-23,230.0 ng/mL; vs intra-amniotic infection median, 5627.0 ng/mL; range, <1.24-19,220.0 ng/mL; P < .001), and preterm premature rupture of membranes (no intra-amniotic infection median, 2190 ng/mL; range, <1.24-7456.1 ng/mL; vs intra-amniotic infection median, 3449.3 ng/mL; range, <1.24-83,600.0; P < .01). (4) Spontaneous labor at term but not preterm was associated with a significant decrease in amniotic fluid lactoferrin concentration (P < .05). (5) Spontaneous term parturition was associated with a significant increase in umbilical cord plasma lactoferrin concentration (P < .005). Conclusion: (1) Intra-amniotic infection was consistently associated with dramatically increased concentrations of lactoferrin in amniotic fluid. (2) Term parturition was associated with a significant increase in lactoferrin concentration in the fetal compartment (umbilical cord blood) and a decrease in the amniotic compartment. We propose that lactoferrin is part of the repertoire of host defense mechanisms against intra-amniotic infection. (Am J Obstet Gynecol 2000;183:904-10.)

publication date

  • January 1, 2000