Unexplained fetal death has a biological signature of maternal anti-fetal rejection: Chronic chorioamnionitis and alloimmune anti-human leucocyte antigen antibodies

Joonho Lee, Roberto Romero, Zhong Dong, Yi Xu, Faisal Qureshi, Suzanne Jacques, Wonsuk Yoo, Tinnakorn Chaiworapongsa, Pooja Mittal, Sonia S. Hassan, Chong Jai Kim

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Aims: Chronic chorioamnionitis is a histological manifestation of maternal anti-fetal cellular rejection. As failure of graft survival is the most catastrophic event in organ transplantation, we hypothesized that fetal death could be a consequence of maternal rejection. The aim of this study was to assess whether there is evidence of cellular and antibody-mediated rejection in fetal death. Methods and results: Placental histology was reviewed for the presence of chronic chorioamnionitis in unexplained preterm fetal death (n=30) and preterm live birth (n=103). Amniotic fluid CXCL10 concentrations were measured with a specific immunoassay. Chronic chorioamnionitis was more frequent in fetal death than in live birth (60.0% versus 37.9%; P<0.05) and fetal death had a higher median amniotic fluid CXCL10 concentration than live birth (2.0 versus 1.8ng/ml, P<0.05), after adjusting for gestational age at amniocentesis. Maternal anti-human leucocyte antigen class II panel-reactive seropositivity determined by flow cytometry was higher in fetal death compared to live birth (35.7% versus 10.9%; P<0.05). Conclusions: Chronic chorioamnionitis is a common pathologic feature in unexplained preterm fetal death. This novel finding suggests that cellular and antibody-mediated anti-fetal rejection of the mother is associated with fetal death (graft failure) in human pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)928-938
Number of pages11
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Nov 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology

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