Aim: Vaginal environment is an important factor in predicting threatened abortion and premature rupture of membranes (PROM) in early pregnancy. Vaginal human β-defensin-2 (HBD-2), a main antimicrobial peptide associated with innate immunity, plays multiple roles to protect the lower genital tract from microbes. This study aimed to assess the usefulness of vaginal HBD-2 as a biochemical marker for monitoring the vaginal environment in pregnant women.
Methods: Twenty-eight pregnant women were enrolled in this study. Vaginal secretion samples were collected to determine Nugent scores, and vaginal washing fluid (4 ml saline) was used to measure HBD-2 levels by ELISA.
Results: In the first trimester, vaginal HBD-2 levels were significantly lower in patients with bacterial vaginosis (BV) (42.1±19.8 pg/ml) compared to those without BV (350.1±68.7 pg/ml, P<0.05), and in patients with PROM (57.2±31.9 pg/ml) compared to those without PROM (375.9±69.4 pg/ml, P<0.05).
Conclusions: Low vaginal HBD-2 levels during early pregnancy suggest a poor vaginal environment and the possibility of developing PROM.