Intraamniotic Lipopolysaccharide Exposure Changes Cell Populations and Structure of the Ovine Fetal Thymus

Elke Kuypers, Tim G. A. M. Wolfs, Jennifer J. P. Collins, Reint K. Jellema, John P. Newnham, Matthew W. Kemp, Suhas G. Kallapur, Alan H. Jobe, Boris W. Kramer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Rationale: Chorioamnionitis induces preterm delivery and acute involution of the fetal thymus which is associated with postnatal inflammatory disorders. We studied the immune response, cell composition, and architecture of the fetal thymus following intraamniotic lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure. Methods: Time-mated ewes received an intraamniotic injection of LPS 5, 12, or 24 hours or 2, 4, 8, or 15 days before delivery at 125 days gestational age (term = 150 days). Results: The LPS exposure resulted in decreased blood lymphocytes within 5 hours and decreased thymic corticomedullary ratio within 24 hours. Thymic interleukin 6 (IL6) and IL17 messenger RNA (mRNA) increased 5-fold 24 hours post-LPS exposure. Increased toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) mRNA and nuclear factor B positive cells at 24 hours after LPS delivery demonstrated acute thymic activation. Both TLR4 and IL1 mRNA increased by 5-fold and the number of Foxp3-positive cells (Foxp3+ cells) decreased 15 days after exposure. Conclusion: Intraamniotic LPS exposure caused a proinflammatory response, involution, and a persistent depletion of thymic Foxp3+ cells indicating disturbance of the fetal immune homeostasis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-956
JournalReproductive Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • fetal inflammatory response syndrome
  • prematurity
  • immune modulation
  • thymic involution


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