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Premature newborns are vulnerable to iron imbalance, although the iron homeostasis during the perinatal period remains unclear. To clarify the iron metabolism of premature infants, we measured serum prohepcidin concentrations of preterm infants, and analyzed the association with iron parameters.Seventy-one (61 preterm and 10 term) infants were enrolled for the study, that had no underlying diseases including asphyxia, bleedings, infection, and anomalies. Serum concentrations of prohepcidin at birth and 1 month after birth were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.Prohepcidin levels at birth but not 1 month postnatal age positively correlated with gestational age (correlation coefficient [CC]:0.334, P = 0.005) and birth weight (CC: 0.367, P = 0.002). The levels at birth of preterm infants (median: 29.93 ng/ml, range: 4.0-110.6) were lower than those of full-term infants, and increased thereafter. On the other hand, the levels in small-for-gestational age infants were not associated with gestational age or birth weight. Prohepcidin levels at birth correlated positively with red cell counts (CC = 0.487, P = 0.025), unsaturated iron binding capacity (CC = 0.755, P = 0.001), total protein (CC = 0.624, P = 0.005), and serum albumin levels (CC = 0.500, P = 0.025), and negatively with serum iron levels (CC = -0.688, P = 0.003), but not ferritin levels. Multivariate analyses indicated that prohepcidin levels at birth were lower in infants with pregnancy-induced hypertension (P = 0.03) or premature rupture of membrane (P = 0.01).Prohepcidin production was physiologically low at birth of preterm infants according to the gestational age, and the levels might be susceptible to the in utero stress. The postnatal increase might reflect the maturation and/or adaptation of iron homeostasis. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2011;56:267-272. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.