Magnesium sulfate differentially modulates fetal membrane inflammation in a time-dependent manner

Sarah Cross, Rachel A. Nelson, Julie A. Potter, Errol R. Norwitz, Vikki M. Abrahams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Problem: Chorioamnionitis and infection-associated inflammation are major causes of preterm birth. Magnesium sulfate (MgSO 4 ) is widely used in obstetrics as a tocolytic; however, its mechanism of action is unclear. This study sought to investigate how MgSO 4 modulates infection-associated inflammation in fetal membranes (FMs), and whether the response was time dependent. Method of Study: Human FM explants were treated with or without bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS); with or without MgSO 4 added either: 1 hour before LPS; at the same time as LPS; 1 hour post-LPS; or 2 hours post-LPS. Explants were also treated with or without viral dsRNA and LPS, alone or in combination; and MgSO 4 added 1 hour post-LPS After 24 hours, supernatants were measured for cytokines/chemokines; and tissue lysates measured for caspase-1 activity. Results: Lipopolysaccharide-induced FM inflammation by upregulating the secretion of a number of inflammatory cytokines/chemokines. Magnesium sulfate administered 1-hour post-LPS inhibited FM secretion of IL-1β, IL-6, G-CSF, RANTES, and TNFα. Magnesium sulfate administered 2 hours post-LPS augmented FM secretion of these factors as well as IL-8, IFNγ, VEGF, GROα and IP-10. Magnesium sulfate delivered 1- hour post-LPS inhibited LPS-induced caspase-1 activity, and inhibited the augmented IL-1β response triggered by combination viral dsRNA and LPS. Conclusion: Magnesium sulfate differentially modulates LPS-induced FM inflammation in a time-dependent manner, in part through its modulation of caspase-1 activity. Thus, the timing of MgSO 4 administration may be critical in optimizing its anti-inflammatory effects in the clinical setting. MgSO 4 might also be useful at preventing FM inflammation triggered by a polymicrobial viral-bacterial infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12861
JournalAmerican Journal of Reproductive Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the staff of Yale-New Haven Hospital's Labor and Birth, and the Yale University Reproductive Sciences Biobank for their help with tissue collection. This study was supported by grant # R01AI121183 from the NIAID, NIH (to VMA).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • fetal membranes
  • infection
  • inflammation
  • magnesium sulfate


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