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The Paradoxical Effects of Chronic Intra-Amniotic Ureaplasma parvum Exposure on Ovine Fetal Brain Development

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posted on 2022-12-09, 12:16 authored by Ruth Gussenhoven, Daan R. M. G. Ophelders, Matthew W. Kemp, Matthew S. Payne, Owen B. Spiller, Mike BeetonMike Beeton, Sarah J. Stock, Bertha Cillero-Pastor, Florian P.Y. Barré, Ron M.A. Heeren, Lilian Kessels, Bas Stevens, Bart P.F. Rutten, Suhas G Kallapur, Alan H. Jobe, Boris W. Kramer, Tim G.A.M. Wolfs

 Chorioamnionitis is associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in preterm infants. Ureaplasma spp. are the microorganisms most frequently isolated from the amniotic fluid of women diagnosed with chorioamnionitis. However, controversy remains concerning the role of Ureaplasma spp. in the pathogenesis of neonatal brain injury. We hypothesize that reexposure to an inflammatory trigger during the perinatal period might be responsible for the variation in brain outcomes of preterms following Ureaplasma-driven chorioamnionitis. To investigate these clinical scenarios, we performed a detailed multimodal study in which ovine neurodevelopmental outcomes were assessed following chronic intra-amniotic Ureaplasma parvum (UP) infection either alone or combined with subsequent lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. We show that chronic intra-amniotic UP exposure during the second trimester provoked a decrease in astrocytes, increased oligodendrocyte numbers, and elevated 5-methylcytosine levels. In contrast, short-term LPS exposure before preterm birth induced increased microglial activation, myelin loss, elevation of 5-hydroxymethylcytosine levels, and lipid profile changes. These LPS-induced changes were prevented by chronic preexposure to UP (preconditioning). These data indicate that chronic UP exposure has dual effects on preterm brain development in utero. On the one hand, prolonged UP exposure causes detrimental cerebral changes that may predispose to adverse postnatal clinical outcomes. On the other, chronic intra-amniotic UP exposure preconditions the brain against a second inflammatory hit. This study demonstrates that microbial interactions and the timing and duration of the inflammatory insults determine the effects on the fetal brain. Therefore, this study helps to understand the complex and diverse postnatal neurological outcomes following UP driven chorioamnionitis 


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Developmental Neuroscience




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Gussenhoven R, Ophelders DRMG, Kemp MW, Payne MS, Spiller OB, Beeton ML, Stock SJ, Cillero-Pastor B, Barr A FPY, Heeren RMA, Kessels L, Stevens B, Rutten BP, Kallapur SG, Jobe AH, Kramer BW, Wolfs TGAM (2017) 'The Paradoxical Effects of Chronic Intra-Amniotic Ureaplasma parvum Exposure on Ovine Fetal Brain Development', Developmental Neuroscience 39(6), pp.472-486. doi: 10.1159/000479021

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Cardiff Met Affiliation

  • Cardiff School of Sport and Health Sciences

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Michael Beeton Mike Beeton

Cardiff Met Research Centre/Group

  • Microbiology & Infection

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