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Exploring functional metabolites in preterm infants

Lookup NU author(s): Victoria Renwick, Dr Christopher StewartORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Authors. Acta Paediatrica published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Foundation Acta Paediatrica. Aim: Metabolomics is the study of small molecules that represent the functional end points of cellular reactions that can impact health. Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) and late onset sepsis (LOS) are the main cause of death in preterm infants surviving the initial days of life. Methods: This review will explore and summarise the current literature exploring metabolomics in preterm infants. Results: There are a relatively limited number of studies investigating metabolomics in preterm infants with NEC and/or LOS and matched controls. Nonetheless, it is evident across longitudinally age-related metabolomic studies that there are significant changes in metabolite profiles post-partum and over the first year of life. Existing studies have reported associations between the metabolite profiles of serum, urine and stool in health and disease in preterm infants. Although some studies have found selected metabolites are associated with disease, the specific metabolites vary from study to study, and larger studies are required. Excitingly, recent work has also begun to untangle how microbially produced metabolites can impact immunoregulation of the infant. Conclusion: Metabolic exploration is an emerging research area with huge potential for developing novel biomarkers and better understanding disease processes in preterm infants.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Renwick VL, Stewart CJ

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Acta Paediatrica

Year: 2022

Volume: 111

Issue: 1

Pages: 45-53

Print publication date: 01/01/2022

Online publication date: 09/10/2021

Acceptance date: 08/10/2021

ISSN (print): 0803-5253

ISSN (electronic): 1651-2227

Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Inc


DOI: 10.1111/apa.16146