Systemic interleukin-2 administration improves lung function and modulates chorioamnionitis-induced pulmonary inflammation in the ovine fetus

Monique G. M. Willems, Daan R. M. G. Ophelders, Maria Nikiforou, Reint K. Jellema, Anke Butz, Tammo Delhaas, Boris W. Kramer, Tim G. A. M. Wolfs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Chorioamnionitis, an inflammatory reaction of the fetal membranes to microbes, is an important cause of preterm birth and associated with inflammation-driven lung injury. However, inflammation in utero overcomes immaturity of the premature lung by inducing surfactant lipids and lung gas volume. Previously, we found that lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced chorioamnionitis resulted in pulmonary inflammation with increased effector T cells and decreased regulatory T cell (Treg) numbers. Because Tregs are crucial for immune regulation, we assessed the effects of interleukin (IL)-2-driven selective Treg expansion on the fetal lung in an ovine chorioamnionitis model. Instrumented fetuses received systemic prophylactic IL-2 treatment [118 days gestational age (dGA)] with or without subsequent exposure to intra-amniotic LPS (122 dGA). Following delivery at 129 dGA (term 147 dGA), pulmonary and systemic inflammation, morphological changes, lung gas volume, and phospholipid concentration were assessed. IL-2 pretreatment increased the FoxP3(+)/CD3(+) ratio, which was associated with reduced CD3-positive cells in the fetal lungs of LPS-exposed animals. Prophylactic IL-2 treatment did not prevent pulmonary accumulation of myeloperoxidase-and PU. 1-positive cells or elevation of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid IL-8 and systemic IL-6 concentrations in LPSexposed animals. Unexpectedly, IL-2 treatment improved fetal lung function of control lambs as indicated by increased disaturated phospholipids and improved lung gas volume. In conclusion, systemic IL-2 treatment in utero preferentially expanded Tregs and improved lung gas volume and disaturated phospholipids. These beneficial effects on lung function were maintained despite the moderate immunomodulatory effects of prophylactic IL-2 in the course of chorioamnionitis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L1-L7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • chorioamnionitis
  • regulatory T cells
  • interleukin-2
  • pulmonary inflammation
  • lung function

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