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1.  Pharmacokinetics, Microbial Response, and Pulmonary Outcomes of Multidose Intravenous Azithromycin in Preterm Infants at Risk for Ureaplasma Respiratory Colonization 
The study objectives were to refine the population pharmacokinetics (PK) model, determine microbial clearance, and assess short-term pulmonary outcomes of multiple-dose azithromycin treatment in preterm infants at risk for Ureaplasma respiratory colonization. Fifteen subjects (7 of whom were Ureaplasma positive) received intravenous azithromycin at 20 mg/kg of body weight every 24 h for 3 doses. Azithromycin concentrations were determined in plasma samples obtained up to 168 h post-first dose by using a validated liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry method. Respiratory samples were obtained predose and at three time points post-last dose for Ureaplasma culture, PCR, antibiotic susceptibility testing, and cytokine concentration determinations. Pharmacokinetic data from these 15 subjects as well as 25 additional subjects (who received either a single 10-mg/kg dose [n = 12] or a single 20-mg/kg dose [n = 13]) were analyzed by using a nonlinear mixed-effect population modeling (NONMEM) approach. Pulmonary outcomes were assessed at 36 weeks post-menstrual age and 6 months adjusted age. A 2-compartment model with all PK parameters allometrically scaled on body weight best described the azithromycin pharmacokinetics in preterm neonates. The population pharmacokinetics parameter estimates for clearance, central volume of distribution, intercompartmental clearance, and peripheral volume of distribution were 0.15 liters/h · kg0.75, 1.88 liters · kg, 1.79 liters/h · kg0.75, and 13 liters · kg, respectively. The estimated area under the concentration-time curve over 24 h (AUC24)/MIC90 value was ∼4 h. All posttreatment cultures were negative, and there were no drug-related adverse events. One Ureaplasma-positive infant died at 4 months of age, but no survivors were hospitalized for respiratory etiologies during the first 6 months (adjusted age). Thus, a 3-day course of 20 mg/kg/day intravenous azithromycin shows preliminary efficacy in eradicating Ureaplasma spp. from the preterm respiratory tract.
PMCID: PMC4291400  PMID: 25385115
2.  Center Variation in Intestinal Microbiota Prior to Late-Onset Sepsis in Preterm Infants 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0130604.
Late onset sepsis (LOS) contributes to mortality and morbidity in preterm infants. We tested the hypotheses that microbes causing LOS originate from the gut, and that distortions in the gut microbial community increases subsequent risk of LOS.
Study Design
We examined the gut microbial community in prospectively collected stool samples from preterm infants with LOS and an equal number of age-matched controls at two sites (Cincinnati, OH and Birmingham, AL), by sequencing the bacterial 16S rDNA. We confirmed our findings in a subset of infants by whole genome shotgun sequencing, and analyzed the data using R and LEfSe.
Infants with LOS in Cincinnati, as compared to controls, had less abundant Actinobacteria in the first samples after birth (median 18 days before sepsis onset), and less abundant Pseudomonadales in the last samples collected prior to LOS (median 8 days before sepsis onset). Infants with LOS in Birmingham, as compared to controls, had no differences identified in the first sample microbial communities, but Lactobacillales was less abundant in the last samples prior to LOS (median 4 days before sepsis onset). Sequencing identified detectable levels of the sepsis-causative organism in stool samples prior to disease onset for 82% of LOS cases.
Translocation of gut microbes may account for the majority of LOS cases. Distortions in the fecal microbiota occur prior to LOS, but the form of distortion depends on timing and site. The microbial composition of fecal samples does not predict LOS onset in a generalizable fashion.
PMCID: PMC4482142  PMID: 26110908
4.  Outcomes of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants with Acidosis at Birth 
To test the hypothesis that acidosis at birth is associated with the combined primary outcome of death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants, and to develop a predictive model of death/NDI exploring perinatal acidosis as a predictor variable.
The study population consisted of ELBW infants born between 2002-2007 at NICHD Neonatal Research Network hospitals. Infants with cord blood gas data and documentation of either mortality prior to discharge or 18-22 month neurodevelopmental outcomes were included. Multiple logistic regression analysis was used to determine the contribution of perinatal acidosis, defined as a cord blood gas with a pH<7 or base excess (BE)<-12, to death/NDI in ELBW infants. In addition, a multivariable model predicting death/NDI was developed.
3979 patients were identified of whom 249 had a cord gas pH<7 or BE<-12 mEq/L. 2124 patients (53%) had the primary outcome of death/NDI. After adjustment for confounding variables, pH<7 and BE<-12 mEq/L were each significantly associated with death/NDI (OR=2.5[1.6,4.2]; and OR=1.5[1.1,2.0], respectively). However, inclusion of pH or BE did not improve the ability of the multivariable model to predict death/NDI.
Perinatal acidosis is significantly associated with death/NDI in ELBW infants. Perinatal acidosis is infrequent in ELBW infants, however, and other factors are more important in predicting death/NDI.
PMCID: PMC4274605  PMID: 24554564
Cord blood gas; Premature infant; Preterm infant; Neurodevelopmental impairment
5.  Inhaled PGE1 in neonates with hypoxemic respiratory failure: two pilot feasibility randomized clinical trials 
Trials  2014;15:486.
Inhaled nitric oxide (INO), a selective pulmonary vasodilator, has revolutionized the treatment of neonatal hypoxemic respiratory failure (NHRF). However, there is lack of sustained improvement in 30 to 46% of infants. Aerosolized prostaglandins I2 (PGI2) and E1 (PGE1) have been reported to be effective selective pulmonary vasodilators. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of inhaled PGE1 (IPGE1) in NHRF.
Two pilot multicenter phase II RCTs are included in this report. In the first pilot, late preterm and term neonates with NHRF, who had an oxygenation index (OI) of ≥15 and <25 on two arterial blood gases and had not previously received INO, were randomly assigned to receive two doses of IPGE1 (300 and 150 ng/kg/min) or placebo. The primary outcome was the enrollment of 50 infants in six to nine months at 10 sites. The first pilot was halted after four months for failure to enroll a single infant. The most common cause for non-enrollment was prior initiation of INO. In a re-designed second pilot, co-administration of IPGE1 and INO was permitted. Infants with suboptimal response to INO received either aerosolized saline or IPGE1 at a low (150 ng/kg/min) or high dose (300 ng/kg/min) for a maximum duration of 72 hours. The primary outcome was the recruitment of an adequate number of patients (n = 50) in a nine-month-period, with fewer than 20% protocol violations.
No infants were enrolled in the first pilot. Seven patients were enrolled in the second pilot; three in the control, two in the low-dose IPGE1, and two in the high-dose IPGE1 groups. The study was halted for recruitment futility after approximately six months as enrollment targets were not met. No serious adverse events, one minor protocol deviation and one pharmacy protocol violation were reported.
These two pilot RCTs failed to recruit adequate eligible newborns with NHRF. Complex management RCTs of novel therapies for persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn (PPHN) may require novel study designs and a longer period of time from study approval to commencement of enrollment.
Trial registration:
Pilot one: NCT number: 00598429 registered on 10 January 2008. Last updated: 3 February 2011.
Pilot two: NCT number: 01467076 17 October 2011. Last updated: 13 February 2013.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-486) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4414424  PMID: 25496504
Hypoxemic respiratory failure; Neonatal; Pulmonary hypertension; Aerosols; Nebulizers; Prostaglandins; Clinical trial
6.  In Utero Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke Aggravates the Response to Ovalbumin in Adult Mice 
Second-hand smoke (SHS) exposure in utero exacerbates adult responses to environmental irritants. We tested the hypothesis that effects of in utero SHS exposure on modulating physiological and transcriptome responses in BALB/c mouse lungs after ovalbumin (OVA) challenge extend well into adulthood, and that the responses show a sex bias. We exposed BALB/c mice in utero to SHS or filtered air (AIR), then sensitized and challenged all offspring with OVA from 19 to 23 weeks of age. At the end of the adult OVA challenge, we evaluated pulmonary function, examined histopathology, analyzed bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), and assessed gene expression changes in the lung samples. All groups exhibited lung inflammation and inflammatory cell infiltration. Pulmonary function testing (airway hyperresponsiveness [AHR], breathing frequency [f]) and BALF (cell differentials, Th1/Th2 cytokines) assessments showed significantly more pronounced lung responses in the SHS-OVA groups than in AIR-OVA groups (AHR, f; eosinophils, neutrophils; IFN-γ, IL-1b, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-13, KC/CXCL1, TNF-α), with the majority of responses being more pronounced in males than in females. SHS exposure in utero also significantly altered lung gene expression profiles, primarily of genes associated with inflammatory responses and respiratory diseases, including lung cancer and lung fibrosis. Altered expression profiles of chemokines (Cxcl2, Cxcl5, Ccl8, Ccl24), cytokines (Il1b, Il6, Il13) and acute phase response genes (Saa1, Saa3) were confirmed by qRT-PCR. In conclusion, in utero exposure to SHS exacerbates adult lung responses to OVA challenge and promotes a pro-asthmatic milieu in adult lungs; further, males are generally more affected by SHS-OVA than are females.
PMCID: PMC3931120  PMID: 23898987
second-hand smoke; in utero exposure; mouse asthma model; inflammation; gene regulation
7.  Intestinal microbiota of preterm infants differ over time and between hospitals 
Microbiome  2014;2:36.
Intestinal microbiota are implicated in risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) and sepsis, major diseases of preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs). Rates of these diseases vary over time and between NICUs, but time and NICU comparisons of the intestinal microbiota of preterm infants are lacking.
We included 66 singleton infants <29 weeks gestational age with stool samples collected between postnatal days 3 to 21 of life who survived free of NEC and sepsis. Infants were enrolled during 2010 and 2011. Twenty-six infants were enrolled at hospital 1 in Cincinnati, OH, and 40 infants were enrolled at hospital 2 in Birmingham, AL. Samples collected from days 3–9 (“week 1”) and days 10–16 (“week 2”) were compared between years and hospitals. Microbial succession was compared between hospitals in 28 infants with samples from the first 3 weeks of life. DNA extracted from stool was used to sequence the 16S rRNA gene by Illumina MiSeq using universal primers. Resulting operational taxonomic unit tables were analyzed for differences between years and hospitals using linear discriminant analysis effect size algorithm (LEfSe; significance, p < 0.05).
Significant variation was observed in infant microbiota by year and hospital. Among hospital 1 infants, week 1 samples had more phylum Firmicutes (class Bacilli, families Clostridiaceae and Enterococcaceae) in 2010 and more phylum Proteobacteria (family Enterobacteriaceae) in 2011; week 2 samples did not significantly vary over time. However, among hospital 2 infants, the week 1 shift was nearly opposite, with more Proteobacteria (Enterobacteriaceae) in 2010 and more Firmicutes (Bacilli) in 2011; week 2 samples exhibited the same pattern. Regression analysis of clinical covariates found that antibiotic use had an important influence but did not explain these observed shifts in microbiota over time and between hospitals. Microbial succession also differed by hospital, with greater change in microbiota in hospital 1 than hospital 2 infants (p < 0.01, Jaccard distance).
Colonizing microbiota differ over time and between NICUs in ways that could be relevant to disease. Multi-site, longitudinal studies are needed to reliably define the impact of intestinal microbiota on adverse outcomes of preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC4203463  PMID: 25332767
Infants; Premature; Microbiome; Geo-temporal analysis; Microbial succession
8.  Histologic Characteristics of the Fetal Inflammatory Response Associated with Neurodevelopmental Impairment and Death in Extremely Preterm Infants 
The Journal of pediatrics  2013;163(3):652-657.e2.
To test the hypothesis that increasing severity of the fetal inflammatory response would have a dose-dependent relationship with severe neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) or death in extremely preterm infants.
Study design
We report 347 infants 23 to 28 weeks gestational age admitted to a tertiary neonatal intensive care unit between 2006 and 2008. The primary outcome was death or NDI at 18–22 month follow-up. Exposure status was defined by increasing stage of funisitis (stage 1: phlebitis; stage 2: arteritis with or without phlebitis; stage 3: subacute necrotizing funisitis) and severity of chorionic plate vasculitis (inflammation with or without thrombosis).
A fetal inflammatory response was detected in 110 placentas (32%). Severe NDI/death rate was higher in infants with subacute necrotizing funisitis compared with infants without placental/umbilical cord inflammation (60% vs. 35%; p<0.05). Among infants with stage 1 or 2 funisitis, the presence of any chorionic vasculitis was associated with higher rates of severe NDI/death (47% vs. 23%; p<0.05). After adjustment for confounding factors, only subacute necrotizing funisitis (RR: 1.87; 95% CI: 1.04 – 3.35; p=0.04) and chorionic plate vasculitis with thrombosis (RR: 2.21; 95% CI: 1.10 – 4.46; p=0.03) were associated with severe NDI/death.
Severe fetal inflammatory response characterized by subacute necrotizing funisitis and severe chorionic plate vasculitis with thrombosis are associated with severe NDI/death in preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC3744601  PMID: 23664630
chorioamnionitis; infant; premature; prognosis; funisitis; chorionic plate vasculitis
9.  Randomized Trial of Plastic Bags to Prevent Term Neonatal Hypothermia in a Resource-Poor Setting 
Pediatrics  2013;132(3):e656-e661.
Term infants in resource-poor settings frequently develop hypothermia during the first hours after birth. Plastic bags or wraps are a low-cost intervention for the prevention of hypothermia in preterm and low birth weight infants that may also be effective in term infants. Our objective was to test the hypothesis that placement of term neonates in plastic bags at birth reduces hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in a resource-poor hospital.
This parallel-group randomized controlled trial was conducted at University Teaching Hospital, the tertiary referral center in Zambia. Inborn neonates with both a gestational age ≥37 weeks and a birth weight ≥2500 g were randomized 1:1 to either a standard thermoregulation protocol or to a standard thermoregulation protocol with placement of the torso and lower extremities inside a plastic bag within 10 minutes after birth. The primary outcome was hypothermia (<36.5°C axillary temperature) at 1 hour after birth.
Neonates randomized to plastic bag (n = 135) or to standard thermoregulation care (n = 136) had similar baseline characteristics (birth weight, gestational age, gender, and baseline temperature). Neonates in the plastic bag group had a lower rate of hypothermia (60% vs 73%, risk ratio 0.76, confidence interval 0.60–0.96, P = .026) and a higher axillary temperature (36.4 ± 0.5°C vs 36.2 ± 0.7°C, P < .001) at 1 hour after birth compared with infants receiving standard care.
Placement in a plastic bag at birth reduced the incidence of hypothermia at 1 hour after birth in term neonates born in a resource-poor setting, but most neonates remained hypothermic.
PMCID: PMC3876758  PMID: 23979082
infant, term; infant, newborn; infant, hypothermia/prevention and control; plastic bag; bedding and linens; body temperature, regulation; polyethylenes; delivery, obstetrics
10.  Outcomes of extremely preterm infants following severe intracranial hemorrhage 
Severe intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is an important prognostic variable in extremely preterm (EPT) infants. We examined imaging and clinical variables that predict outcomes in EPT infants with severe ICH.
Study design
Retrospective analysis of 353 EPT infants with severe ICH. Outcomes were compared by examining: i) unilateral vs. bilateral ICH; and ii) presence vs. absence of hemorrhagic parenchymal infarction (HPI). Regression analyses identified variables associated with death or neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI).
Bilateral ICH and HPI had higher rates of adverse outcomes and were independently associated with death/NDI. HPI was the most important variable for infants of lower birth weight, and bilateral ICH for larger infants. For infants surviving to 36 weeks, shunt placement was most associated with death/NDI.
Bilateral ICH and the presence of HPI in EPT infants with severe ICH are associated with death/NDI, though the importance depends on birth weight and survival to 36 weeks.
PMCID: PMC4143234  PMID: 24370654
intraventricular hemorrhage; neurodevelopmental impairment; extremely low birth weight; cranial ultrasound
11.  Individual and Center-Level Factors Affecting Mortality Among Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants 
Pediatrics  2013;132(1):e175-e184.
To examine factors affecting center differences in mortality for extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants.
We analyzed data for 5418 ELBW infants born at 16 Neonatal Research Network centers during 2006–2009. The primary outcomes of early mortality (≤12 hours after birth) and in-hospital mortality were assessed by using multilevel hierarchical models. Models were developed to investigate associations of center rates of selected interventions with mortality while adjusting for patient-level risk factors. These analyses were performed for all gestational ages (GAs) and separately for GAs <25 weeks and ≥25 weeks.
Early and in-hospital mortality rates among centers were 5% to 36% and 11% to 53% for all GAs, 13% to 73% and 28% to 90% for GAs <25 weeks, and 1% to 11% and 7% to 26% for GAs ≥25 weeks, respectively. Center intervention rates significantly predicted both early and in-hospital mortality for infants <25 weeks. For infants ≥25 weeks, intervention rates did not predict mortality. The variance in mortality among centers was significant for all GAs and outcomes. Center use of interventions and patient risk factors explained some but not all of the center variation in mortality rates.
Center intervention rates explain a portion of the center variation in mortality, especially for infants born at <25 weeks’ GA. This finding suggests that deaths may be prevented by standardizing care for very early GA infants. However, differences in patient characteristics and center intervention rates do not account for all of the observed variability in mortality; and for infants with GA ≥25 weeks these differences account for only a small part of the variation in mortality.
PMCID: PMC3691533  PMID: 23753096
mortality rates; outcome; NICU; preterm infants; extremely preterm infants
12.  Pulmonary MMP-9 Activity in Mechanically Ventilated Children with RSV Disease 
The European respiratory journal  2013;43(4):1086-1096.
RSV infection is a potent stimulus for airway epithelial expression of MMP-9, and MMP-9 activity in vivo is a predictor of disease severity in children with RSV-induced respiratory failure (RSV-RF).
Human airway epithelial cells were infected with RSV A2 strain, and analyzed for MMP-9 and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1, a natural inhibitor of MMP-9) release. In addition, endotracheal samples from children with RSV-RF and controls (non-RSV pneumonia and non-lung disease controls) were analyzed for MMP-9, TIMP-1, human neutrophil elastase (HNE) and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity.
RSV infection of airway epithelia was sufficient to rapidly induce MMP-9 transcription and protein release. Pulmonary MMP-9 activity peaked at 48 hours in infants with RSV-RF compared to controls. In the RSV group, MMP-9 activity and MMP-9:TIMP-1 ratio imbalance predicted higher oxygen requirement and worse Pediatric Risk of Mortality scores. Highest levels of HNE and MPO were measured in the RSV cohort but unlike MMP-9, these neutrophil markers failed to predict disease severity.
These results support the hypothesis that RSV is a potent stimulus for MMP-9 expression and release from human airway epithelium, and that MMP-9 is an important biomarker of disease severity in mechanically ventilated children with RSV lung infection.
PMCID: PMC4059407  PMID: 24311764
13.  Feeding Practices and NEC 
Clinics in perinatology  2013;40(1):1-10.
Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a multifactorial disorder that primarily affects premature infants. Human milk as compared to formula reduces the incidence of NEC. Feeding practices such as minimal enteral nutrition (versus complete fasting) before progressive advancement of feeds, early introduction of feeds (before day 4 of life as compared to later), and a more rapid advancement of feeds (30–35 ml/kg/day as compared to 15–20 ml/kg/day) do not increase the incidence of NEC in preterm infants. There is no evidence supporting continuous over intermittent tube feedings in preterm infants. In a feed-intolerant preterm infant without any other clinical and radiological evidence of NEC, minimal enteral nutrition rather than complete suspension of enteral feeding may be an alternative. Human milk-based fortifier as compared to bovine-based fortifier may reduce the incidence of NEC but additional studies are required.
PMCID: PMC3576724  PMID: 23415260
Necrotizing enterocolitis; Feeding Methods; Enteral Nutrition; Premature Infant
14.  Neurodevelopmental Impairment Following Neonatal Hyperoxia in the Mouse 
Neurobiology of disease  2012;50:69-75.
Extremely premature infants are often exposed to supra-physiologic concentrations of oxygen, and frequently have hypoxemic episodes. These preterm infants are at high risk (~40%) for neurodevelopmental impairment (NDI) even in the absence of obvious intracranial pathology such as intraventricular hemorrhage or periventricular leukomalacia. The etiology for NDI has not been determined, and there are no animal models to simulate neurodevelopmental outcomes of prematurity. Our objectives were to develop and characterize a mouse model to determine long-term effects of chronic hypoxia or hyperoxia exposure on neurodevelopment. Newborn C57BL/6 mice were exposed to hypoxia (12% O2) or hyperoxia (85% O2) from postnatal day 1 to 14 and then returned to air. At 12–14 weeks of age, neurobehavioral assessment (Water Maze test, Novel Object Recognition test, Open Field test, Elevated Plus Maze, and Rotarod test) was performed, followed by MRI and brain histology. Neurobehavioral testing revealed that hyperoxia-exposed mice did poorly on the water maze and novel object recognition tests compared to air-exposed mice. MRI demonstrated smaller hippocampi in hyperoxia- and hypoxia-exposed mice with a greater reduction in hyperoxia-exposed mice, including a smaller cerebellum in hyperoxia-exposed mice. Brain histology showed reduced CA1 and CA3 and increased dentate gyral width in hippocampus. In conclusion, neonatal hyperoxia in mice leads to abnormal neurobehavior, primarily deficits in spatial and recognition memory, associated with smaller hippocampal sizes, similar to findings in ex-preterm infants. This animal model may be useful to determine mechanisms underlying developmental programming of NDI in preterm infants, and for evaluation of therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3534920  PMID: 23064437
Disease models; animal; Infant; premature; Developmental programming; Hippocampus; Cerebellum; Oxidative stress
15.  Characteristics of extremely low birth weight infant survivors with unimpaired outcomes at 30 months of age 
To evaluate characteristics of unimpaired outcome in ELBW survivors.
Study Design
ELBW infants (n=714) with 30 months’ assessments were analyzed. Logistic regression was used to develop a model for the binary outcome of unimpaired versus impaired outcome.
Thirty-three percent of infants had an unimpaired outcome. 17% of ELBW survivors had a Bayley II Mental Developmental Index score of ≥101 and 2% had a score of ≥116. Female gender, use of antenatal steroids, maternal education ≥ high school and absence of major neonatal morbidities were independent predictors of unimpaired outcome. The likelihood of an unimpaired outcome in presence of major neonatal morbidities was higher in infants exposed to antenatal steroids.
The majority of unimpaired ELBW survivors had cognitive scores shifted towards the lower end of the normal distribution. Exposure to antenatal steroids was associated with higher likelihood of an unimpaired outcome in infants with major neonatal morbidities.
PMCID: PMC3903461  PMID: 23807719
extremely low birth weight; unimpaired outcome; outcome; antenatal steroids; cerebral palsy
16.  In Utero Exposure to Second-Hand Smoke Aggravates Adult Responses to Irritants 
In utero exposure to second-hand smoke (SHS) is associated with exacerbated asthmatic responses in children. We tested the hypothesis that in utero SHS will aggravate the lung responses of young adult mice re-exposed to SHS. We exposed Balb/c mice in utero to SHS (S) or filtered air (AIR; A), and re-exposed the male offspring daily from 11–15 weeks of age to either SHS (AS and SS) or AIR (AA and SA). After the adult exposures, we analyzed samples of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF), examined the results of histopathology, and assessed pulmonary function and gene expression changes in lung samples. In SS mice, compared with the other three groups (AA, AS, and SA), we found decreases in breathing frequency and increases in airway hyperresponsiveness (AHR), as well as low but significantly elevated concentrations of BALF proinflammatory cytokines (IL-1b, IL-6, and keratinocyte-derived chemokine). Lung morphometric analyses revealed enlarged airspaces and arteries in SA and SS mice compared with their in utero AIR counterparts, as well as increased collagen deposition in AS and SS mice. Unique gene expression profiles were found for in utero, adult, and combined exposures, as well as for mice with elevated AHR responses. The profibrotic metalloprotease genes, Adamts9 and Mmp3, were up-regulated in the SS and AHR groups, suggesting a role for in utero SHS exposure on the adult development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Our results indicate that in utero exposures to environmentally relevant concentrations of SHS alter lung structure more severely than do adult SHS exposures of longer duration. These in utero exposures also aggravate AHR and promote a profibrotic milieu in adult lungs.
PMCID: PMC3547098  PMID: 22962063
second-hand smoke; in utero exposure; airway hyperresponsiveness; lung structure changes; gene expression
17.  Retinoic Acid Combined with Vitamin A Synergizes to Increase Retinyl Ester Storage in the Lungs of Newborn and Dexamethasone-Treated Neonatal Rats 
Neonatology  2007;92(1):10.1159/000100083.
Retinyl esters (REs), the major storage form of vitamin A (retinol), provide substrates for the production of bioactive retinoids, including retinoic acid (RA), which are known to promote lung development and maturation. We previously showed that the nutrient-metabolite combination VARA (molar ratio 10 vitamin A to 1 RA), synergistically increased REs in the lungs of 1-week-old rats, compared to vitamin A or RA alone.
To test the hypotheses, first, that VARA is more effective in increasing lung RE than is vitamin A in newborn rats prior to alveolarization, and, second, that the effect of VARA is maintained during concurrent treatment with the glucocorticoid, dexamethasone (Dex).
Newborn rats were treated with VARA, vitamin A alone, or oil (C) on postnatal days (P) 1–3, and RE in the lungs was quantified on P4, and again on P8 to assess retention. Additionally, neonatal rats were treated on P5–7 with VARA with and without Dex, and the lung and liver REs were quantified on P8.
Results and Conclusions
Lung RE was nearly 8-fold higher in VARA compared to vitamin A-treated rats on P4 (p < 0.01) and 2.5-fold higher on P8. In neonates co-treated with Dex and VARA on P5–7, the elevation in lung RE on P8 by VARA was not antagonized by Dex, although Dex reduced growth. Lung morphology and development were not significantly altered. The VARA combination may significantly increase lung RE content even during concurrent Dex therapy. Because lung retinoids are important for lung maturation and repair, increasing lung RE may possibly have clinical benefit.
PMCID: PMC3843127  PMID: 17596734
Lung maturation; Glucocorticoids; Lung morphometry; Vitamin A status; Retinyl ester storage; liver; Retinoic acid
18.  Cytokines and Post-hemorrhagic Ventricular Dilation in Premature Infants 
American journal of perinatology  2012;29(9):731-740.
To determine in extremely low birth weight (ELBW) infants if elevated blood inteferon-γ (IFN-γ), interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-18, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), and transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) are associated with need for shunt following severe intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH), or with ventricular dilation following milder grades /no IVH.
Study design
Whole blood cytokines were measured on postnatal days 1, 3, 7, 14, and 21. Maximum IVH grade in the first 28d, and shunt surgery or ventricular dilation on subsequent ultrasound (28d -36 w PMA) were determined.
Of 902 infants in the NICHD NRN Cytokine study who survived to 36w/discharge, 3.1% had shunts. Of the 12% of infants with severe (Gr III–IV) IVH, 26% had a shunt associated with elevated TNF-α. None of the infants without IVH (69%) or with Gr I (12%) or II (7%) IVH received shunts, but 8.4% developed ventricular dilation, associated with lower IFN-γ and higher IL-18.
Statistically significant but clinically non-discriminatory alterations in blood cytokines were noted in infants with severe IVH who received shunts and in those without severe IVH who developed ventricular dilation. Blood cytokines are likely associated with brain injury but may not be clinically useful as biomarkers for white matter damage.
PMCID: PMC3619127  PMID: 22773292
Infant; premature; Cytokines; Hydrocephalus; Intraventricular hemorrhage; Intracranial hemorrhage
19.  Altered DNA Methylation Profile in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis 
Rationale: DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mechanism, which often occurs in response to environmental stimuli and is crucial in regulating gene expression. It is likely that epigenetic alterations contribute to pathogenesis in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Objectives: To determine the DNA methylation changes in IPF and their effects on gene expression.
Methods: Total DNA methylation and DNA methyltransferase expression were compared in IPF and normal control lung tissues. IPF and normal tissues were subjected to comparative analysis of genome-wide DNA methylation and RNA expression using DNA hybridization to the Illumina HumanMethylation27 BeadChip and RNA hybridization to Illumina HumanHT-12 BeadChip. Functional analyses of differentially expressed and differentially methylated genes were done. Selected genes were validated at DNA, RNA, and protein levels.
Measurements and Main Results: DNA methylation status was altered in IPF. IPF samples demonstrated higher DNA methyltransferase expression without observed alterations in global DNA methylation. Genome-wide differences in DNA methylation status and RNA expression were demonstrated by array hybridization. Among the genes whose DNA methylation status and RNA expression were both significantly altered, 16 genes were hypermethylated in DNA associated with decreased mRNA expression or vice versa. We validated CLDN5, ZNF467, TP53INP1, and DDAH1 genes at the level of DNA methylation status, RNA, and protein-level expression.
Conclusions: Changes in DNA methylation correspond to altered mRNA expression of a number of genes, some with known and others with previously uncharacterized roles in IPF, suggesting that DNA methylation is important in the pathogenesis of IPF.
PMCID: PMC3480526  PMID: 22700861
idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; DNA methylation; gene expression; microarray
20.  Correction: Myofibroblast Differentiation and Enhanced Tgf-B Signaling in Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):10.1371/annotation/d0132de3-56ca-4258-9119-bdab0ceb2cff.
PMCID: PMC3765485
21.  Myofibroblast Differentiation and Enhanced Tgf-B Signaling in Cystic Fibrosis Lung Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e70196.
TGF-β, a mediator of pulmonary fibrosis, is a genetic modifier of CF respiratory deterioration. The mechanistic relationship between TGF-β signaling and CF lung disease has not been determined.
To investigate myofibroblast differentiation in CF lung tissue as a novel pathway by which TGF-β signaling may contribute to pulmonary decline, airway remodeling and tissue fibrosis.
Lung samples from CF and non-CF subjects were analyzed morphometrically for total TGF-β1, TGF-β signaling (Smad2 phosphorylation), myofibroblast differentiation (α-smooth muscle actin), and collagen deposition (Masson trichrome stain).
TGF-β signaling and fibrosis are markedly increased in CF (p<0.01), and the presence of myofibroblasts is four-fold higher in CF vs. normal lung tissue (p<0.005). In lung tissue with prominent TGF-β signaling, both myofibroblast differentiation and tissue fibrosis are significantly augmented (p<0.005).
These studies establish for the first time that a pathogenic mechanism described previously in pulmonary fibrosis is also prominent in cystic fibrosis lung disease. The presence of TGF-β dependent signaling in areas of prominent myofibroblast proliferation and fibrosis in CF suggests that strategies under development for other pro-fibrotic lung conditions may also be evaluated for use in CF.
PMCID: PMC3741283  PMID: 23950911
22.  Urine Biomarkers Predict Acute Kidney Injury in Newborns 
The Journal of pediatrics  2012;161(2):270-5.e1.
To identify urine biomarkers predictive of acute kidney injury (AKI) in infants admitted to level 2 and 3 neonatal intensive care units with birth weight >2000 g and 5-minute Apgar score ≤7.
Study design
A nested case-control study was performed comparing 8 candidate urine AKI biomarkers in infants with AKI (defined as a rise in serum creatinine of at least 0.3 mg/dL or a serum creatinine elevation ≥1.7 mg/dL persisting for 3 days) and 24 infants from the described cohort without AKI. Urine was analyzed for neutrophil gelatinase–associated lipocalin, osteopontin, cystatin C, albumin, β2 microglobulin, epithelial growth factor, uromodulin (UMOD), and kidney injury molecule 1.
Compared with the infants without AKI, those with AKI had higher levels of urine cystatin C (1123 pg/mL [95% CI, 272-4635 pg/mL] vs 90 pg/mL [95% CI, 39-205 pg/mL]; P < .004; area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUC] = 0.82), lower levels of UMOD (11.0 pg/mL [95% CI, 5.7-21.4 pg/mL] vs 26.2 pg/mL [95% CI, 17.4-39.4 pg/mL]; P < .03; AUC = 0.77), and lower levels of epithelial growth factor (6.7 pg/mL [95% CI, 4.0-11.3 pg/mL] vs 17.4 pg/mL [95% CI, 12.7-23.8 pg/mL; P = .003; AUC = 0.82). Although the differences were not statistically significant, levels of urine neutrophil–associated gelatinase lipocalin, kidney injury molecule 1, and osteopontin trended higher in infants with AKI.
Urinary biomarkers can predict AKI in neonates admitted to level 2 and 3 neonatal intensive care units.
PMCID: PMC3598122  PMID: 22424940
23.  Outcome Trajectories in Extremely Preterm Infants 
Pediatrics  2012;130(1):e115-e125.
Methods are required to predict prognosis with changes in clinical course. Death or neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely premature neonates can be predicted at birth/admission to the ICU by considering gender, antenatal steroids, multiple birth, birth weight, and gestational age. Predictions may be improved by using additional information available later during the clinical course. Our objective was to develop serial predictions of outcome by using prognostic factors available over the course of NICU hospitalization.
Data on infants with birth weight ≤1.0 kg admitted to 18 large academic tertiary NICUs during 1998–2005 were used to develop multivariable regression models following stepwise variable selection. Models were developed by using all survivors at specific times during hospitalization (in delivery room [n = 8713], 7-day [n = 6996], 28-day [n = 6241], and 36-week postmenstrual age [n = 5118]) to predict death or death/neurodevelopmental impairment at 18 to 22 months.
Prediction of death or neurodevelopmental impairment in extremely premature infants is improved by using information available later during the clinical course. The importance of birth weight declines, whereas the importance of respiratory illness severity increases with advancing postnatal age. The c-statistic in validation models ranged from 0.74 to 0.80 with misclassification rates ranging from 0.28 to 0.30.
Dynamic models of the changing probability of individual outcome can improve outcome predictions in preterm infants. Various current and future scenarios can be modeled by input of different clinical possibilities to develop individual “outcome trajectories” and evaluate impact of possible morbidities on outcome.
PMCID: PMC3382921  PMID: 22689874
logistic models; premature infant; predictive value of tests; prognosis
24.  Approach to Infants Born at 22 to 24 Weeks’ Gestation: Relationship to Outcomes of More-Mature Infants 
Pediatrics  2012;129(6):e1508-e1516.
We sought to determine if a center’s approach to care of premature infants at the youngest gestational ages (22–24 weeks’ gestation) is associated with clinical outcomes among infants of older gestational ages (25–27 weeks’ gestation).
Inborn infants of 401 to 1000 g birth weight and 22 0/7 to 27 6/7 weeks’ gestation at birth from 2002 to 2008 were enrolled into a prospectively collected database at 20 centers participating in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network. Markers of an aggressive approach to care for 22- to 24-week infants included use of antenatal corticosteroids, cesarean delivery, and resuscitation. The primary outcome was death before postnatal day 120 for infants of 25 to 27 weeks’ gestation. Secondary outcomes were the combined outcomes of death or a number of morbidities associated with prematurity.
Our study included 3631 infants 22 to 24 weeks’ gestation and 5227 infants 25 to 27 weeks’ gestation. Among the 22- to 24-week infants, use of antenatal corticosteroids ranged from 28% to 100%, cesarean delivery from 13% to 65%, and resuscitation from 30% to 100% by center. Centers with higher rates of antenatal corticosteroid use in 22- to 24-week infants had reduced rates of death, death or retinopathy of prematurity, death or late-onset sepsis, death or necrotizing enterocolitis, and death or neurodevelopmental impairment in 25- to 27-week infants.
This study suggests that physicians’ willingness to provide care to extremely low gestation infants as measured by frequency of use of antenatal corticosteroids is associated with improved outcomes for more-mature infants.
PMCID: PMC3362905  PMID: 22641761
low-birth weight infant; NICUs; treatment; patient outcome assessment
25.  Thy-1 Signals through PPARγ to Promote Lipofibroblast Differentiation in the Developing Lung 
Thy-1 is a glycosylphosphytidylinositol-linked cell-surface glycoprotein present on a subset of lung fibroblasts, which plays an important role in postnatal alveolarization. In the present study, we define the role of Thy-1 in pulmonary lipofibroblast differentiation and in the regulation of lipid homeostasis via peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor–γ (PPARγ). Thy-1 was associated with interstitial cells containing lipid droplets in vivo. The transfection of Thy-1 into Thy-1 (−) fibroblasts increased triglyceride content, fatty-acid uptake, and the expression of the lipofibroblast marker adipocyte differentiation–related protein. Thy-1 (+) fibroblasts exhibited 2.4-fold higher PPARγ activity, and the inhibition or activation of PPARγ reduced and increased triglyceride content, respectively. Thy-1 (−) fibroblasts were not responsive to either of the PPARγ agonists ciglitazone or prostaglandin J2, supporting the importance of Thy-1 in signaling via PPARγ. Thy-1 (+) fibroblasts expressed significantly higher concentrations of fatty-acid transporter protein–3 mRNA, and demonstrated higher rates of fatty-acid uptake and increased triglyceride content. The inhibition of fatty-acid transporter protein function reduced Thy-1 (+) fibroblast lipid content. The expression of Thy-1 in C57BL/6 lung fibroblasts increased during the neonatal period, coinciding with the onset of alveolarization. Thy-1 promoted lipofibroblast differentiation via the expression of PPARγ, stimulated lipid accumulation via fatty-acid esterification, and enhanced the fatty-acid uptake mediated by fatty-acid transporter proteins. Thy-1 is important in the regulation of lipofibroblast differentiation in the developing lung.
PMCID: PMC3380285  PMID: 22268140
Thy-1; lipofibroblast; PPARγ; lipid metabolism

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