Nilsson AK, Tebani A, Malmodin D, Pedersen A, Hellgren G, Löfqvist C, Hansen-Pupp I, Uhlén M, Hellström A
Front. Neurosci. 16 (-) 830884 [2022-02-17; online 2022-02-17]
An increasing number of extremely premature infants survive the neonatal period and beyond. Little is known about the maturation of the preterm infant's metabolome and its relation to the development of morbidities. Using 1H-NMR, we investigated the serum metabolic profile of 87 infants born at a gestational age (GA) <28 weeks [mean GA (SD) 25.4 (1.4) weeks] in samples longitudinally collected from birth to term equivalent age. The infant metabolome was analyzed in relation to GA, postnatal age, nutrition, and preterm morbidities. At postnatal day 1, low GA correlated with high levels of 3-hydroxyisobutyrate, acetate, acetoacetate, acetone, formate, glucose, and valine. Nearly all quantified metabolites displayed postnatal concentration changes. For example, the two phospholipid-related metabolites myo-inositol and ethanolamine displayed a similar decline from birth over the first weeks of life, irrespectively of GA. The proportion of enteral/parenteral energy intake in the first 28 days significantly correlated with mean levels of 52% of the analyzed metabolites. Low enteral energy intake was associated with high serum levels of 3-hydroxyisobutyrate, creatinine, glucose, glycerol, histidine, lactate, leucine, lysine, methionine, ornithine, phenylalanine, proline, threonine, and uridine. There were also significant correlations between high enteral intake and high serum levels of isoleucine and tyrosine. Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) outcomes were not significantly associated with metabolite levels in the neonatal period after correcting for multiple testing. In conclusion, the serum metabolome of extremely premature infants changes substantially in the neonatal period, largely driven by the gradual transfer from total parenteral nutrition to full enteral feeding. Further studies are needed to disentangle the intricate relationships between the metabolome, nutritional management, GA, and the development of preterm morbidities.