Umbilical vein interleukin-6 levels correlate with the severity of placental inflammation and gestational age

Beverly Barton Rogers, James M. Alexander, Judith Head, Don Mcintire, Kenneth J. Leveno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Interleukin-6 (IL6) and suppurating placental inflammation are markers of neonatal sepsis. The purpose of this study was to define a relationship between IL6 and acute chorioamnionitis and funisitis of the placenta, and to compare IL6 levels in term and preterm neonates. Umbilical venous IL6 was measured in 137 term and 110 preterm neonates. Acute chorioamnionitis was graded as none, mild, moderate, severe, and necrotizing. Funisitis was graded as none, 1 vessel, 2 vessels, 3 vessels, or necrotizing. A 2-way analysis of variance with interaction was used to compare the IL6 levels. There was a stepwise progression of IL6 levels with increasing severity of acute chorioamnionitis and funisitis. Term neonates showed an IL6 elevation with mild acute chorioamnionitis and single-vessel vasculitis, which increased progressively until the inflammation became severe. In contrast, IL6 levels in preterm neonates did not increase significantly until severe acute chorioamnionitis or 3-vessel vasculitis was seen. Statistically significant differences in IL6 levels were seen in term versus preterm infants when the acute chorioamnionitis was mild or moderate or when the funisitis involved either 1 or 2 vessels (P < 0.05). The difference may be related to the relative immaturity of the preterm immune system, as has been demonstrated in vivo and in vitro. However, differences in management could be confounding factors. In conclusion, umbilical venous IL6 levels correlate with the severity of acute placental inflammation, with greater IL6 elevations in term infants compared to preterm infants until the inflammation becomes severe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-340
Number of pages6
JournalHuman Pathology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Chorioamnionitis
  • Interleukin-6
  • Neonate
  • Placenta
  • Sepsis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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