Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a major challenge for premature infants in neonatal intensive care units and efforts toward the search for indicators that could be used to predict the development of the disease have given limited results until now.
In this study, stools from 132 very low birth weight infants were collected daily in the context of a multi-center prospective study aimed at investigating the potential of fecal biomarkers for NEC prediction. Eight infants (~6%) received a stage 3 NEC diagnosis. Their stools collected up to 10 days before diagnosis were included and matched with 14 non-NEC controls and tested by ELISA for the quantitation of eight biomarkers.
Biomarkers were evaluated in all available stool samples leading to the identification of lipocalin-2 and calprotectin as the two most reliable predicting markers over the 10-day period prior to NEC development. Pooling the data for each infant confirmed the significance of lipocalin-2 and calprotectin, individually and in combination 1 week in advance of the NEC clinical diagnosis.
The lipocalin-2 and calprotectin tandem represents a significant biomarker signature for predicting NEC development. Although not yet fulfilling the “perfect biomarker” criteria, it represents a first step toward it.
Investigator, CHEO Research Institute