Transfusion-related Inflammatory Cytokine and Neutrophil Extracellular Trap Quantification in Neonates

Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) logo

Utah System of Higher Education (USHE)




Anemia of Prematurity
Necrotizing Enterocolitis

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Despite many advances in neonatal care, necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality among premature infants. NEC is the most common life-threatening gastrointestinal emergency encountered in the neonatal intensive care unit, affecting between 3.8% and 13% of very low birthweight (VLBW) infants (1-3). More recently interest has intensified regarding the possible association between "elective" red blood cell (RBC) transfusions in premature infants and the subsequent development of NEC (4-9). On a physiological basis, a few explanations for transfusion-associated NEC have been proposed: 1) the physiological impact of anemia that can initiate a cascade of events leading to ischemic-hypoxemic mucosal gut injury predisposing to NEC [10]; and 2) increased splanchnic blood flow following RBC transfusion leading to reperfusion injury of gut mucosa. Aim 1. This study will quantify inflammatory cytokine profiles in anemic infants cared for in the NICU prior to and after transfusion with packed red blood cells (PRBC), as dictated by current clinical guidelines for treatment of anemia, and prospectively assess for clinical signs and symptoms of NEC following each transfusion event. Aim 2. Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) isolated from the pre- and post-transfusion blood samples will be assessed in vitro for neutrophil extracellular traps (NET) formation. Aim 3. A) To determine whether significant anemia preceding a RBC transfusion is associated with impaired intestinal oxygenation, and whether a RBC transfusion temporarily increases splanchnic oxygenation. We postulate that the CSOR will be low (<0.75) at baseline measurement in infants with hemodynamically significant anemia, and that RBC transfusion will temporarily increase intestinal perfusion in that particular group of babies. B) To determine whether alterations in mesenteric regional oxygenation saturation(rSO2) can predict the development of NEC in VLBW infants. We hypothesize that overall cerebro-splanchnic oxygenation ratio (CSOR) values will be significantly lower among very low birth weight (VLBW) infants that develop NEC, when compared to CSOR values obtained in infants that do not develop NEC following RBC transfusion.


12 patients




Under 12 weeks old


No Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

  • Inpatient in NICU at UUMC, PCMC, or IMC
  • Gestational age at birth ≤ 32 weeks
  • Birth weight ≤ 1500 grams
  • Age ≤ 12 weeks of life

Exclusion criteria

  • Lack of parental consent
  • Multiple congenital anomalies

Trial design

12 participants in 1 patient group

Infants requiring PRBCs
Premature infants who require PRBCs for anemia that is not related to sepsis, surgery, NEC or immunologic abnormalities.

Trial contacts and locations



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