Early Biomarkers of Hypoxia and Inflammation and Two-Year Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in the Preterm Erythropoietin Neuroprotection (PENUT) Trial

EBioMedicine. 2021 Oct 4;72:103605. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103605. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: In the Preterm Erythropoietin (Epo) NeUroproTection (PENUT) Trial, potential biomarkers of neurological injury were measured to determine their association with outcomes at two years of age and whether Epo treatment decreased markers of inflammation in extremely preterm (<28 weeks’ gestation) infants.

METHODS: Plasma Epo was measured (n=391 Epo, n=384 placebo) within 24h after birth (baseline), 30min after study drug administration (day 7), 30min before study drug (day 9), and on day 14. A subset of infants (n=113 Epo, n=107 placebo) had interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), Interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-10, Tau, and tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) levels evaluated at baseline, day 7 and 14. Infants were then evaluated at 2 years using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, 3rd Edition (BSID-III).

FINDINGS: Elevated baseline Epo was associated with increased risk of death or severe disability (BSID-III Motor and Cognitive subscales <70 or severe cerebral palsy). No difference in other biomarkers were seen between treatment groups at any time, though Epo appeared to mitigate the association between elevated baseline IL-6 and lower BSID-III scores in survivors. Elevated baseline, day 7 and 14 Tau concentrations were associated with worse BSID-III Cognitive, Motor, and Language skills at two years.

INTERPRETATION: Elevated Epo at baseline and elevated Tau in the first two weeks after birth predict poor outcomes in infants born extremely preterm. However, no clear prognostic cut-off values are apparent, and further work is required before these biomarkers can be widely implemented in clinical practice.

FUNDING: PENUT was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (U01NS077955 and U01NS077953).

PMID:34619638 | DOI:10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103605

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