Maternal bacterial infection can be linked to pregnancy complications, including increased mortality and morbidity for mother and fetus, low birth weight, and preterm delivery. These outcomes are also associated with a detrimental impact on child growth and development during early life, and significantly increase risk of non-communicable disease in later life.
The inflammatory response, including cytokine production, to bacterial infection of mother during pregnancy is thought to be an important mechanism leading to preterm delivery. Current treatment options largely rely on antibiotic use, which have been associated with adverse fetal outcomes, and do not target the inflammation. Safe effective treatments to protect against infection and inflammation induced complications could provide exciting novel opportunities for improving pregnancy health for all women.
Pro-biotics, and other agents classified generally as immune stimulants have shown great promise for prevention of immune inflammatory diseases. Immune stimulants have been demonstrated to be a safe and effective prophylactic treatment in reducing incidence and severity of respiratory infections in children and adults. OM85-BV, a cocktail lysate of several heat-killed respiratory bacterial antigens is one such compound. We propose, that during pregnancy, OM85-BV has potential as a preventative treatment to protect against the strong inflammatory responses that can lead to premature labour.
Rodent models are well validated to study mechanisms underlying infection induced pregnancy complications. When delivered to pregnant mice, lipopolysaccharide (LPS), the major pathogenic component of gram-negative bacteria can induce preterm delivery, fetal death, growth retardation and embryonic resorption. Preliminary results from this pre-clinical study suggest that treatment of pregnant mice with OM85-BV for one week prior to LPS exposure can protect against the LPS induced changes to fetal growth and survival and demonstrate the potential of OM85-BV as a novel, safe, effective treatment strategy to protect against bacterial infection-induced complications during pregnancy.