Association between high cytokine levels with white matter injury in preterm infants with sepsis*

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the association among interleukin-6, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and interleukin-1β and white matter injury in very-low-birth-weight infants with clinical sepsis and to help predict infants at risk for development of white matter injury.

Design:

A prospective cohort study was carried out.

Setting:

Neonatal intensive care unit.

Patients:

Very low birth weight infants with clinical early-onset sepsis. Exclusion criteria were death before 14 days, major malformations, and congenital infections.

Intervention:

Ultrasound brain scans were carried out on the third day and weekly until the sixth week of life or discharge and confirmed by a magnetic resonance image performed in the first year. Plasma was assayed for interleukin-6, interleukin-8, tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-10, and interleukin-1β in the same sample collected for sepsis work-up. Mann-Whitney, chi-square, t tests, multiple regression, and receiver operating characteristic analysis were applied.

Measurements and Main Results:

From July 2005 to October 2007 we studied 84 very-low-birth-weight infants, 27 (32%) with white matter injury, and 57 (68%) control subjects (with no white matter injury). Proven early-onset sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis were high risk for white matter injury after adjustment for gestational age and birth weight (relative risk, 3.04; 1.93–4.80 and relative risk, 2.2; 1.31–3.74, respectively). Interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α levels were higher in infants with white matter injury than in control subjects (p < .0001). Interleukin-1β and interleukin-10 were similar. The areas under the curve for interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α were 0.96 (0.92–0.99), 0.97 (0.94–1.0), and 0.93 (0.86–0.99), respectively. Interleukin-8 ≥100 pg/mL was the best predictor of white matter injury; the sensitivity and specificity were 96% and 83%, respectively, and negative predictive value was 98%.

Conclusions:

Very-low-birth-weight infants with proven early-onset sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis, and high plasma levels of interleukin-6, interleukin-8, and tumor necrosis factor-α are at high risk for white matter injury.

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