The human Ureaplasma species as causative agents of chorioamnionitis

Emma L. Sweeney, Samantha J. Dando, Suhas G. Kallapur, Christine L. Knox

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The human Ureaplasma species are the most frequently isolated microorganisms from the amniotic fluid and placentae of women who deliver preterm and are also associated with spontaneous abortions or miscarriages, neonatal respiratory diseases, and chorioamnionitis. Despite the fact that these microorganisms have been habitually found within placentae of pregnancies with chorioamnionitis, the role of Ureaplasma species as a causative agent has not been satisfactorily explained. There is also controversy surrounding their role in disease, particularly as not all women infected with Ureaplasma spp. develop chorioamnionitis. In this review, we provide evidence that Ureaplasma spp. are associated with diseases of pregnancy and discuss recent findings which demonstrate that Ureaplasma spp. are associated with chorioamnionitis, regardless of gestational age at the time of delivery. Here, we also discuss the proposed major virulence factors of Ureaplasma spp., with a focus on the multiplebanded antigen (MBA), which may facilitate modulation/alteration of the host immune response and potentially explain why only subpopulations of infected women experience adverse pregnancy outcomes. The information presented within this review confirms that Ureaplasma spp. are not simply "innocent bystanders" in disease and highlights that these microorganisms are an often underestimated pathogen of pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-379
Number of pages31
JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Amniotic fluid
  • Chorioamnionitis
  • Multiple-banded antigen
  • Neonate/fetus
  • Pregnancy
  • Ureaplasma
  • Virulence factors

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