Necrotizing Enterocolitis: Old Problem with New Hope

Department of Pediatrics, China Medical University Hospital, China Medical University, Taichung, Taiwan.
Pediatrics & Neonatology (Impact Factor: 0.88). 06/2012; 53(3):158-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.pedneo.2012.04.001
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and mortality rate associated with this disease are not decreasing despite more than three decades of intensive research investigation and advances in neonatal intensive care. Although the etiology of NEC is not clearly elucidated, the most accepted hypothesis at present is that enteral feeding in the presence of intestinal hypoxia-ischemia-reperfusion, and colonization with pathogens provokes an inappropriately accentuated inflammatory response by the immature intestinal epithelial cells of the preterm neonate. However, delayed colonization of commensal flora with dysbiotic flora with a predominance of pathologic microorganisms plays a fundamental role in the pathogenesis of NEC. Recent studies have further identified that NEC infants have less diverse flora compared to age-matched controls without NEC. Increased gastric residual volume may be an early sign of NEC. An absolute neutrophil count of <1.5 × 10(9)/L and platelets below 100 × 10(9)/L are associated with an increased risk for mortality and gastrointestinal morbidity. Nonspecific supportive medical management should be initiated promptly. Sudden changes in vital signs such as tachycardia or impending shock may indicate perforation. A recent meta-analysis investigating using probiotics for prevention of NEC with a total of 2176 preterm very low birth weight infants found a success rate of just 1/25. Careful monitoring of the residual volume, and of serious changes in hemograms and vital signs may help in early diagnosis and prediction of when to perform medical or early surgical intervention. In term of prevention, administration of oral probiotics containing Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus is a simple and safe method that attempts to early establish of commensal flora balance to inhibit pathogenic flora and an inflammatory response.

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Available from: Hung-Chih Lin, Aug 28, 2014
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    European Journal of Pediatric Surgery 11/2012; 24(2). DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1330849 · 0.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating neonatal gastrointestinal disease that primarily affects premature infants. It is characterized by bowel inflammation and necrosis. In spite of extensive research, there has been little progress in decreasing the incidence or mortality of NEC over the past three decades. The exact etiology of NEC has not been identified. However, it is believed to result from an inappropriate immune response to gut microbiota. Using 454-pyrosequencing analyses of 16S rRNA genes that were PCR-amplified from stool DNA specimens, we compared the gut microbiota of infants with NEC to matched controls without NEC. The infants with NEC were then categorized into three subgroups based on severity: mild, severe, and lethal. We compared the microbiota among these subgroups and between each severity group and appropriate controls. Bacterial diversity and the relative abundance of Actinobacteria and Clostridia were significantly lower in NEC specimens compared to controls. The absence of Clostridia was significantly associated with NEC. Microbial diversity and Clostridia abundance and prevalence decreased with increasing severity of NEC. Low bacterial diversity in stool specimens may be indicative of NEC and the severity of NEC. The low bacterial diversity, and the lack of Clostridia in lethal specimens, could indicate that the presence of a diverse bacterial population in the gut as well as the presence of taxa such as Clostridia may play a role in attenuating inflammation leading to NEC.
    12/2015; 3(1):11. DOI:10.1186/s40168-015-0075-8
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    ABSTRACT: No single diagnostic investigation is currently available for necrotising enterocolitis (NEC). We implemented a novel, untargeted, exploratory study to determine whether metabolomics can reveal early biomarker(s) of NEC. The effect of gestational age on the metabolome was also investigated. Two serum samples were obtained from 12 preterm babies (born <30 weeks gestation) and eight term controls: sample "A" at ≤1 week of age and sample "B" once fully fed. Samples were subjected to gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Metabolomic data was analysed by principal component analysis (PCA), univariate and network analysis. Sixteen metabolite features significantly differed when B samples were compared between preterm babies who subsequently developed NEC and preterm/term controls (p value <0.05). Of these seven metabolites were linked to up-regulation of IL-1β. Significant differences in 54 metabolite features (p value <0.05) were observed between preterm and term metabolomes. Of these, 12 metabolite features were linked to one network involved in carbohydrate/lipid metabolism (p = 1 × 10(-30)). Metabolomic differences were observed in preterm babies at risk of NEC. However, sample sizes were insufficient to confidently identify a biomarker. Network modelling of preterm and term metabolomes suggest possible nutritional deficiency and altered pro-insulin action in preterm babies.
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