Can a protein in cord blood predict risk of death, cerebral palsy in preterm infants?

March 29, 2019

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that some preterm babies born without haptoglobin, a protein in blood cells, have higher odds of brain bleeding, cerebral palsy and death. Their findings suggest that the absence of the protein could serve as a potential biomarker indicating a need for increased monitoring or other preventive interventions.

Their study, which is published in the Lancet's EClinicalMedicine, was a translational analysis of data and newborn cord blood samples stored at the National Institutes of Health from a previous clinical trial.

UIC's Dr. Catalin Buhimschi and Dr. Irina Buhimschi led the research and analyzed cord blood samples from 921 newborns to see if haptoglobin was associated with poor outcomes in babies who had been exposed to in utero inflammation, which causes about 30 percent of preterm births.

By calculating odds ratios -- a statistic indicating the strength or weakness of an association -- they found that preterm babies who had been exposed to inflammation and who lacked haptoglobin were more likely to die before 1 year or develop cerebral palsy by 2 years when compared to preterm babies who had the protein or had not been exposed to inflammation. Odds of intraventricular hemorrhage, known as bleeding in the brain, were also higher in this group.

These findings persisted even when potentially confounding factors, like birth weight, gestational age, fetal sex or other treatments, such as magnesium sulfate given for neuroprotection, were evaluated.

"Our study provides strong evidence that an absence of haptoglobin in preterm babies who have been exposed to inflammation is an indicator of increased risk for complications like brain bleeding, cerebral palsy and even death," said Dr. Catalin Buhimschi, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the UIC College of Medicine and corresponding author. "This underscores the potential protective role of haptoglobin against short- and long-term poor neonatal outcomes and suggests that the protein may be a valuable marker of neurologic damage and the need for clinical interventions."

Catalin Buhimschi and Irina Buhimschi, who are married, have conducted multiple studies on haptoglobin in preterm babies but this is the first to include a large, representative sample of participants.

Irina Buhimschi, professor of obstetrics and gynecology and study co-author, says that this individualized approach to understanding risk among a specific group of newborns is needed in the maternal-fetal medicine specialty.

"New mothers and babies are particularly complex and we cannot put all preterm deliveries under the same umbrella," Irina Buhimschi said. "This study is also particularly fascinating because haptoglobin is a known protein. It's one that researchers have seen time and again but, until now, has not been applied in this way."

For their studies, Catalin Buhimschi and Irina Buhimschi developed a new method of testing haptoglobin at very low levels, as the protein does not reach adult levels until babies are about one year old.

"The takeaway message of this study is that a simple test of cord blood after delivery could help doctors develop an individualized care plan for some at-risk newborns," said Catalin Buhimschi.
-end-
This research was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or NICHD, and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (HD27869, HD34208, HD34116, HD40544, HD27915, HD34136, HD21414, HD27917, HD27860, HD40560, HD40545, HD40485, HD40500, HD27905, HD27861, HD34122, HD40512, HD53907, HD34210, HD21410, HD36801, HD19897).

Additional co-authors on the study include Kathleen Jablonski, Dwight Rouse, Michael Varner, Uma Reddy, Brian Mercer, Kenneth Leveno, Ronald Wapner, Yoram Sorokin, John Throp Jr., Susan Ramin, Fergal Malone, Marshall Carpenter, Mary O'Sullivan, Alam Peaceman, George Saade, Donald Dudley, Steve Caritis and members of the NICHD. Catalin Buhimschi, Irina Buhimschi, Jablonski and Wapner noted relevant disclosures in the study.

University of Illinois at Chicago

Related Brain Articles from Brightsurf:

Glioblastoma nanomedicine crosses into brain in mice, eradicates recurring brain cancer
A new synthetic protein nanoparticle capable of slipping past the nearly impermeable blood-brain barrier in mice could deliver cancer-killing drugs directly to malignant brain tumors, new research from the University of Michigan shows.

Children with asymptomatic brain bleeds as newborns show normal brain development at age 2
A study by UNC researchers finds that neurodevelopmental scores and gray matter volumes at age two years did not differ between children who had MRI-confirmed asymptomatic subdural hemorrhages when they were neonates, compared to children with no history of subdural hemorrhage.

New model of human brain 'conversations' could inform research on brain disease, cognition
A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that sheds light on how the brain functions.

Human brain size gene triggers bigger brain in monkeys
Dresden and Japanese researchers show that a human-specific gene causes a larger neocortex in the common marmoset, a non-human primate.

Unique insight into development of the human brain: Model of the early embryonic brain
Stem cell researchers from the University of Copenhagen have designed a model of an early embryonic brain.

An optical brain-to-brain interface supports information exchange for locomotion control
Chinese researchers established an optical BtBI that supports rapid information transmission for precise locomotion control, thus providing a proof-of-principle demonstration of fast BtBI for real-time behavioral control.

Transplanting human nerve cells into a mouse brain reveals how they wire into brain circuits
A team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen and Vincent Bonin (VIB-KU Leuven, Université libre de Bruxelles and NERF) showed how human nerve cells can develop at their own pace, and form highly precise connections with the surrounding mouse brain cells.

Brain scans reveal how the human brain compensates when one hemisphere is removed
Researchers studying six adults who had one of their brain hemispheres removed during childhood to reduce epileptic seizures found that the remaining half of the brain formed unusually strong connections between different functional brain networks, which potentially help the body to function as if the brain were intact.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions
Study of mouse models provides clear implications for new targets to treat alcohol use disorder and fetal alcohol syndrome.

Scientists predict the areas of the brain to stimulate transitions between different brain states
Using a computer model of the brain, Gustavo Deco, director of the Center for Brain and Cognition, and Josephine Cruzat, a member of his team, together with a group of international collaborators, have developed an innovative method published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Sept.

Read More: Brain News and Brain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.