- Intra-amniotic infection/inflammation (IAI) is one of the most important mechanisms of disease in preterm birth. Resistin is an adipocytokine that has been linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and inflammation. The objective of this study was to determine if resistin is present in amniotic fluid (AF) and if its concentration changes with gestational age, in the presence of labour, and in IAI in patients with spontaneous preterm labour (PTL) and intact membranes, preterm prelabour rupture of membranes (PPROM) and clinical chorioamnionitis. This cross-sectional study included 648 patients in the following groups: (1) women in the mid-trimester of pregnancy (14-18 weeks) who underwent amniocentesis for genetic indications and delivered a normal neonate at term (n = 61); (2) normal pregnant women at term with (n = 49) and without (n = 50) spontaneous labour; (3) patients with an episode of PTL and intact membranes who were classified into: (a) PTL who delivered at term (n = 153); (b) PTL who delivered preterm (<37 weeks gestation) without IAI (n = 108); and (c) PTL with IAI (n = 84); (4) women with PPROM with (n = 47) and without (n = 44) IAI; and (5) patients with clinical chorioamnionitis at term with (n = 22) and without (n = 30) microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity. Resistin concentration in AF was determined by enzyme-linked immunoassay. Non-parametric statistics were used for analyses. (1) Resistin was detected in all AF samples; (2) the median AF resistin concentration at term was significantly higher than in the mid-trimester (23.6 ng/mL vs. 10 ng/mL; p < 0.001); (3) among patients with PTL, the median AF resistin concentration was significantly higher in patients with IAI than in those without IAI (144.9 ng/mL vs. 18.7 ng/mL; p < 0.001) and those with PTL and intact membranes who delivered at term (144.9 ng/mL vs. 16.3 ng/mL; p < 0.001); (4) patients with PPROM with IAI had a significantly higher median AF resistin concentration than those without IAI (132.6 ng/mL vs. 13 ng/mL; p < 0.001); (5) no significant differences were observed in the median AF resistin concentration between patients with spontaneous labour at term and those at term not in labour (28.7 ng/mL vs. 23.6 ng/mL; p = 0.07); and (6) AF resistin concentration > or =37 ng/mL (derived from a receiver-operating characteristic curve) had a sensitivity of 85.4% and a specificity of 94.3% for the diagnosis of intra-amniotic inflammation. Resistin is a physiologic constituent of the AF, and its concentrations in AF: (1) are significantly elevated in the presence of IAI; (2) increase with advancing gestation; and (3) do not change in the presence of spontaneous labour at term. We propose that resistin may play a role in the innate immune response against intra-amniotic infection.