Elevated fecal calprotectin levels during necrotizing enterocolitis are associated with activated neutrophils extruding neutrophil extracellular traps

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OBJECTIVE:Neonates with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) have higher calprotectin levels in stool than do healthy neonates. However, it is not known whether high stool calprotectin at the onset of bowel symptoms identifies neonates who truly have NEC vs other bowel disorders.STUDY DESIGN:Neonates were eligible for this study when an x-ray was ordered to ‘rule-out NEC’. Stool calprotectin was quantified at that time and in a follow-up stool. Each episode was later categorized as NEC or not NEC. The location of calprotectin in the bowel was determined by immunohistochemistry.RESULTS:Neonates with NEC had higher initial and follow-up stool calprotectin levels than did neonates without NEC. Calprotectin in bowel from neonates with NEC was within neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs).CONCLUSION:At the onset of signs concerning for NEC, fecal calprotectin is likely to be higher in neonates with NEC. Calprotectin in their stools is exported from neutrophils via NETs.

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