Concurrence of High Levels of Interferons α and β in Cord and Maternal Blood and Simultaneous Presence of Interferon in Trophoblast in an African Population

Document Type



Obstetrics and Gynaecology (East Africa)


A high concentration of interferon-α (IFN-α) (>5 U/ml) in cord blood was used as the criterion for establishing our study group. In a collection from deliveries by 269 Kenyan women, 16 such cord samples with matching maternal blood and placental biopsies were identified. These 16 were studied in detail together with 23 randomly selected among those with low cord IFN-α levels. The levels of IFN- in retal blood correlated with levels in their mothers for both IFN-α and β but not for IFN-γ. IFN-α was furthermore demonstrated in villous and decidual trophoblast from 15 (94%) placentae from donors with high IFN-α in the cord blood but not in the placenta of any low IFN level donors. In contrast, IFN-β was not demonstrated in any placenta. These observations suggest simultaneous IFN induction in the three compartments, transplacental IFN transport, or trophoblast production of IFN to both circulations. Looking for IFN inducers, we did serologic tests for nonspecific indicators of inflammation and for specific virus and protozoan infections, but these showed no relation to elevated IFN levels. Immunohistology also revealed no evidence of a number of placental infections. The cause of the high levels of IFN-α could still be infectious but remains unexplained and may be noninfectious


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Interferon & Cytokine Research