Around 40% of preterm births are attributed to ascending intrauterine infection, and Ureaplasma parvum (UP) is commonly isolated in these cases. Here we present a mouse model of ascending UP infection that resembles human disease, using vaginal inoculation combined with mild cervical injury induced by a common spermicide (Nonoxynol-9, as a surrogate for any mechanism of cervical epithelial damage). We measure bacterial load in a non-invasive manner using a luciferase-expressing UP strain, and post-mortem by qPCR and bacterial titration. Cervical exposure to Nonoxynol-9, 24 h pre-inoculation, facilitates intrauterine UP infection, upregulates pro-inflammatory cytokines, and increases preterm birth rates from 13 to 28%. Our results highlight the crucial role of the cervical epithelium as a barrier against ascending infection. In addition, we expect the mouse model will facilitate further research on the potential links between UP infection and preterm birth.
- Bacterial infection
- Bacterial pathogenesis