Each of the 135 study participants had presented at a hospital with premature labor symptoms and underwent a routine amniocentesis to determine the maturity of the fetus's lungs. A small sample of the amniotic fluid was also immediately analyzed by screening and diagnostic tests--glucose, neutrophil (white blood cell) count , lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), Gram stain, culture, IL-6 and MMP-8--and a "fingerprint" of the proteins was generated using SELDI-TOF (surface-enhanced laser desorption ionization time-of flight). Peaks were sought for four proteins that served as evidence of inflammation.
Results revealed that the proteomic profiling was more accurate, yielding results in 30 minutes and catching subtle inflammation missed by other tests such as the neutrophil count, Gram stain or culture.
The study, "Detection of Intra-amniotic Inflammation/Infection by Proteomic Profiling. Prospective Comparison with Rapid Diagnostic Tests (Glucose, WBC, LDH, Gram Stain,) IL-6 AND MMP-8," is the first to compare prospectively the traditional tests with the new proteomic profile using fresh amniotic fluid and is a joint effort by maternal-fetal medicine specialists from Yale University and the University of Kansas School of Medicine.
Proteomics is a novel technology that has found applications in various fields including cancer screening. Its potential for improving management of pregnancy complications also appears to be very promising.
Contact: Sanda Pecina
March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation