To evaluate whether concentrations of inflammation-related proteins are elevated in the blood of preterm newborns who develop cerebral white matter damage.
We measured 25 proteins in blood collected on days 1, 7, and 14 from 939 infants born before the 28th week of gestation. Brain ultrasound scans were read by at least two sonologists, who agreed on the presence or absence of lesions. A protein concentration was considered elevated if it was in the highest quartile for gestational age and the day on which the specimen was collected.
In time-oriented models, elevated concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1, serum amyloid A, and macrophage inflammatory protein 1β on day 1 and interleukin-8 on day 7 were associated with increased risk of ventriculomegaly. Elevated concentrations of macrophage inflammatory protein 1β on day 1 and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 on day 7 were associated with increased risk of an echolucent lesion. Infants with elevated concentrations of inflammation-related proteins on two separate days were at significantly increased risk for ventriculomegaly, but at only modestly increased risk for an echolucent lesion.
Concentrations of inflammation-related proteins in the circulation in the first days after preterm birth provide information about the risk of sonographic white matter damage. The inflammatory process might begin in utero.