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OBJECTIVE - Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common surgical emergency in preterm infants, and pathogenesis associates with changes in the fecal microbiome. As fecal samples incompletely represent microbial communities in intestinal mucosa, we sought to determine the NEC tissue-specific microbiome and assess its contribution to pathogenesis.
DESIGN - We amplified and sequenced the V1-V3 hypervariable region of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene extracted from intestinal tissue and corresponding fecal samples from 12 surgical patients with NEC and 14 surgical patients without NEC. Low quality and non-bacterial sequences were removed, and taxonomic assignment was made with the Ribosomal Database Project. Operational taxonomic units were clustered at 97%. We tested for differences between NEC and non-NEC samples in microbiome alpha- and beta-diversity and differential abundance of specific taxa between NEC and non-NEC samples. Additional analyses were performed to assess the contribution of other demographic and environmental confounding factors on the infant tissue and fecal microbiome.
RESULTS - The fecal and tissue microbial communities were different. NEC was associated with a distinct microbiome, which was characterized by low diversity, higher abundances of Staphylococcus and Clostridium_sensu_stricto, and lower abundances of Actinomyces and Corynebacterium. Infant age and vancomycin exposure correlated with shifts in the tissue microbiome.
CONCLUSION - The observed low diversity in NEC tissues suggests that NEC is associated with a bacterial bloom and a distinct mucosal bacterial community. The exact bacterial species that constitute the bloom varied by infant and were strongly influenced by age and exposure to vancomycin.
Optimal management of patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is unclear. One treatment, surgical ligation, is associated with adverse outcomes. We reviewed data from the Kids' Inpatient Database (2000-2012) to determine if PDA ligation rates: (1) changed over time, (2) varied geographically, or (3) influenced surgical complication rates. In 2012, 47,900 infants <1500g birth weight were born in the United States, including 2,800 undergoing PDA ligation (5.9%). Ligation was more likely in infants <1000g (85.9% vs. 46.2%), and associated with necrotizing enterocolitis (59.2% vs. 37.5%), BPD (54.6% vs. 15.2%), severe intraventricular hemorrhage (16.4% vs. 5.3%), and hospital transfer (37.6% vs. 16.4%). Ligation rates peaked in 2006 at 87.4 per 1000 hospital births, dropping to 58.8 in 2012, and were consistently higher in Western states. Infants undergoing ligation were more likely to experience comorbidities. Rates of ligation-associated vocal cord paralysis increased over time (1.2-3.9%); however, mortality decreased (12.4-6.5%). Thus, PDA ligation has become less frequent, although infants being ligated are smaller and more medically complex. Despite increase in some complications, mortality rates improved perhaps reflecting advances in care.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The majority of surviving infants with surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) will have some degree of neurodevelopmental impairment. The impact of specific medial and surgical treatments for infants with severe NEC remains largely unknown but is being actively investigated. It is incumbent upon all providers caring for these infants to continue to focus on long term neurodevelopmental outcomes and to develop more widespread methods of neurodevelopmental assessment.
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Although currently available data are variable, it appears that the incidence of surgical necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has not decreased significantly over the past decade. Pneumoperitoneum and clinical deterioration despite maximal medical therapy remain the most common indications for operative treatment. Robust studies linking outcomes with specific indications for operation are lacking. Promising biomarkers for severe NEC include fecal calprotectin and S100A12; serum fatty acid-binding protein; and urine biomarkers. Recent advances in ultrasonography make this imaging modality more useful in identifying surgical NEC and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is being actively studied. Another fairly recent finding is that regionalization of care for infants with NEC likely improves outcomes. The neurodevelopmental outcomes after surgical treatment are known to be poor. A randomized trial near completion will provide robust data regarding neurodevelopmental outcomes after laparotomy versus drainage as the initial operative treatment for severe NEC.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common gastrointestinal emergency among premature infants. Although a large body of research has focused on understanding its pathogenesis, the exact mechanism has not been elucidated. Of particular interest is the potential causative role of infectious culprits in the development of NEC. A variety of reports describe bacterial, viral, and fungal infections occurring in association with NEC; however, no single organism has emerged as being definitively involved in NEC pathogenesis. In this review, the authors summarize the literature on infectious causes of NEC.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Innate immune responses are critical for mucosal immunity. Here we describe an innate lymphocyte population, iCD8α cells, characterized by expression of CD8α homodimers. iCD8α cells exhibit innate functional characteristics such as the capacity to engulf and kill bacteria. Development of iCD8α cells depends on expression of interleukin-2 receptor γ chain (IL-2Rγc), IL-15, and the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class Ib protein H2-T3, also known as the thymus leukemia antigen or TL. While lineage tracking experiments indicated that iCD8α cells have a lymphoid origin, their development was independent of the transcriptional suppressor Id2, suggesting that these cells do not belong to the family of innate lymphoid cells. Finally, we identified cells with a similar phenotype in humans, which were profoundly depleted in newborns with necrotizing enterocolitis. These findings suggest a critical role of iCD8α cells in immune responses associated with the intestinal epithelium.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
BACKGROUND - Gastrointestinal barrier immaturity predisposes preterm infants to necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC). Intraepithelial lymphocytes (IEL) bearing the unconventional T cell receptor (TCR) γδ (γδ IEL) maintain intestinal integrity and prevent bacterial translocation in part through production of interleukin (IL) 17.
OBJECTIVE - We sought to study the development of γδ IEL in the ileum of human infants and examine their role in NEC pathogenesis. We defined the ontogeny of γδ IEL proportions in murine and human intestine and subjected tcrδ-/- mice to experimental gut injury. In addition, we used polychromatic flow cytometry to calculate percentages of viable IEL (defined as CD3+ CD8+ CD103+ lymphocytes) and the fraction of γδ IEL in surgically resected tissue from infants with NEC and gestational age matched non-NEC surgical controls.
RESULTS - In human preterm infants, the proportion of IEL was reduced by 66% in 11 NEC ileum resections compared to 30 non-NEC controls (p<0.001). While γδ IEL dominated over conventional αβ IEL early in gestation in mice and in humans, γδ IEL were preferential decreased in the ileum of surgical NEC patients compared to non-NEC controls (50% reduction, p<0.05). Loss of IEL in human NEC was associated with downregulation of the Th17 transcription factor retinoic acid-related orphan nuclear hormone receptor C (RORC, p<0.001). TCRδ-deficient mice showed increased severity of experimental gut injury (p<0.05) with higher TNFα expression but downregulation of IL17A.
CONCLUSION - Complimentary mouse and human data suggest a role of γδ IEL in IL17 production and intestinal barrier production early in life. Specific loss of the γδ IEL fraction may contribute to NEC pathogenesis. Nutritional or pharmacological interventions to support γδ IEL maintenance in the developing small intestine could serve as novel strategies for NEC prevention.
OBJECTIVE - Earlier diagnosis and treatment of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) in preterm infants, before clinical deterioration, might improve outcomes. A monitor that measures abnormal heart rate characteristics (HRC) of decreased variability and transient decelerations was developed as an early warning system for sepsis. As NEC shares pathophysiologic features with sepsis, we tested the hypothesis that abnormal HRC occur before clinical diagnosis of NEC.
STUDY DESIGN - Retrospective review of Bells stage II to III NEC cases among infants <34 weeks gestation enrolled in a prospective randomized clinical trial of HRC monitoring at three neonatal intensive care units.
RESULT - Of 97 infants with NEC and HRC data, 33 underwent surgical intervention within 1 week of diagnosis. The baseline HRC index from 1 to 3 days before diagnosis was higher in patients who developed surgical vs medical NEC (2.06±1.98 vs 1.22±1.10, P=0.009). The HRC index increased significantly 16 h before the clinical diagnosis of surgical NEC and 6 h before medical NEC. At the time of clinical diagnosis, the HRC index was higher in patients with surgical vs medical NEC (3.3±2.2 vs 1.9±1.7, P<0.001).
CONCLUSION - Abnormal HRC occur before clinical diagnosis of NEC, suggesting that continuous HRC monitoring may facilitate earlier detection and treatment.
Preterm infants may be at risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) due to deficiency of transforming growth factor-β 2 (TGF-β(2)) in the developing intestine. We hypothesized that low epithelial TGF-β(2) expression in preterm intestine and during NEC results from diminished autocrine induction of TGF-β(2) in these cells. Premature baboons delivered at 67% gestation were treated per current norms for human preterm infants. NEC was diagnosed by clinical and radiological findings. Inflammatory cytokines, TGF-β(2), Smad7, Ski, and strawberry notch N (SnoN)/Ski-like oncoprotein (SKIL) was measured using quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, immunoblots, and immunohistochemistry. Smad7 effects were examined in transfected IEC6 intestinal epithelial cells in vitro. Findings were validated in archived human tissue samples of NEC. NEC was recorded in seven premature baboons. Consistent with existing human data, premature baboon intestine expressed less TGF-β(2) than term intestine. TGF-β(2) expression was regulated in epithelial cells in an autocrine fashion, which was interrupted in the premature intestine and during NEC due to increased expression of Smad7. LPS increased Smad7 binding to the TGF-β(2) promoter and was associated with dimethylation of the lysine H3K9, a marker of transcriptional silencing, on the nucleosome of TGF-β(2). Increased Smad7 expression in preterm intestine was correlated with the deficiency of SnoN/SKIL, a repressor of the Smad7 promoter. Smad7 inhibits autocrine expression of TGF-β(2) in intestinal epithelial cells in the normal premature intestine and during NEC. Increased Smad7 expression in the developing intestine may be due to a developmental deficiency of the SnoN/SKIL oncoprotein.