Begnel ER, Drake AL, Kinuthia J, Matemo D, Huang ML, Ásbjörnsdóttir KH, Chohan V, Beima-Sofie K, John-Stewart G, Lehman D, Slyker J. Cervical cytomegalovirus reactivation, cytokines and spontaneous preterm birth in Kenyan women. Clinical and experimental immunology. 2021 Mar;203(203). 472-479. PMID: 33270222 [PubMed] PMCID: PMC7874830
Genital cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation is common during the third trimester of pregnancy. We hypothesized that cervical CMV shedding may increase risk of spontaneous preterm birth (sPTB) through the release of inflammatory cytokines in the cervix. We conducted a nested case-control analysis to determine the relationship between CMV shedding and sPTB using data and samples from a prospective cohort study in western Kenya. Women who delivered between 28 + 0 and 33 + 6 weeks gestation were matched by gestational age at sample collection to controls who delivered ≥ 37 + 0 weeks. Levels of CMV DNA and interleukin (IL)-1 beta (β), IL-6, IL-8 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α were measured in cervical swabs. We used conditional logistic regression to assess relationships between CMV shedding, cervical cytokine levels and sPTB. Among 86 cases and 86 matched controls, cervical CMV levels were not significantly associated with sPTB [odds ratio (OR) = 1·23, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0·59-2·56], but were significantly associated with higher levels of cervical IL-6 (β = 0·15, 95% CI = 0·02-0·29) and TNF-α (β = 0·14, 95% CI = 0·01-0·27). In univariate analysis, higher odds of sPTB was associated with higher cervical IL-6 levels (OR = 1·54, 95% CI = 1·00-2·38), but not with other cervical cytokines. In this cohort of Kenyan women, we did not find a significant association between cervical CMV shedding and sPTB before 34 weeks.