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Infectious Diseases in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 227-232

Impaired Whole-Blood Polymorphonuclear Leukocyte Migration as a Possible Predictive Marker for Infections in Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes

1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Univ. Frauenklinik–Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 1, Graz A–8010, Austria
2Institute of Pathophysiology, All Karl Franzens University, Graz, Austria

Received 23 May 2001; Accepted 27 August 2001

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives: Steroids, used in pretermpremature rupture of membranes (pPROM), to reduce the risk of morbidity and mortality of the preterm neonate, impair the maternal polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN)-based immune system. In spite of combination with antibiotics, prenatal and postnatal bacterial infections of mother and child are frequent. This pilot study focuses on the influence of steroids in pPROM on maternal PMN functional capacity and subsequent infections.

Methods: After opting for expectant management, eight women with pPROM and no signs of infection were treated by steroids (betamethasone 5.7 mg, i.m. every 24 hours, for three days) and antibiotic therapy with either amoxicillin and clavulanic acid, piperacillin or ampicillin i.v. up to delivery. The conventional inflammation parameters of PMN blood count and C-reactive protein (CRP) were measured daily in parallel with PMN migratory capacity towards N-formyl-methionyl-leucyI-phenylalanine stimulation and under blank conditions, estimated by a whole blood membrane filter assay.

Results: In all patients PMN migration decreased during the application of steroids. Three patients showed a decrease in PMN migration below critical values and in spite of antibiotic prophylaxis acute pyelonephritis developed 2–6 days later. PMN count and CRP were not predictive of maternal infection.

Conclusion: Reduced PMN function, caused by steroid treatment in pPROM, is suggested to be a reason for serious bacterial infections in spite of antibiotic prophylaxis. PMN migration reflects individual PMN defensive capacity.