Materials and Methods: A sheep model of pregnancy was used in which the ileal mucosa, submucosa, and ENS were assessed following IA exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for 2 or 7 days (acute), Ureaplasma parvum (UP) for 42 days (chronic), or repetitive microbial exposure (42 days UP with 2 or 7 days LPS).
Results: IA LPS exposure for 7 days or IA UP exposure for 42 days caused intestinal injury and inflammation in the mucosal and submucosal layers of the gut. Repetitive microbial exposure did not further aggravate injury of the terminal ileum. Chronic IA UP exposure caused significant structural ENS alterations characterized by loss of PGP9.5 and S100β immunoreactivity, whereas these changes were not found after re-exposure of chronic UP-exposed fetuses to LPS for 2 or 7 days.
Conclusion: The in utero loss of PGP9.5 and S100β immunoreactivity following chronic UP exposure corresponds with intestinal changes in neonates with NEC and may therefore form a novel mechanistic explanation for the association of chorioamnionitis and NEC.
- urea plasma parvum
- intra-amniotic infection
- Enteric nervous system
- necrotizing enterocolitis
- Preterm birth