An extra-uterine system to physiologically support the extreme premature lamb

Emily A. Partridge, Marcus G. Davey, Matthew A. Hornick, Patrick E. McGovern, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Jesse D. Vrecenak, Carmen Mesas-Burgos, Aliza Olive, Robert C. Caskey, Theodore R. Weiland, Jiancheng Han, Alexander J. Schupper, James T. Connelly, Kevin C. Dysart, Jack Rychik, Holly L. Hedrick, William H. Peranteau, Alan W. Flake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

148 Scopus citations

Abstract

In the developed world, extreme prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity due to a combination of organ immaturity and iatrogenic injury. Until now, efforts to extend gestation using extracorporeal systems have achieved limited success. Here we report the development of a system that incorporates a pumpless oxygenator circuit connected to the fetus of a lamb via an umbilical cord interface that is maintained within a closed 'amniotic fluid' circuit that closely reproduces the environment of the womb. We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to 4 weeks. Lambs on support maintain stable haemodynamics, have normal blood gas and oxygenation parameters and maintain patency of the fetal circulation. With appropriate nutritional support, lambs on the system demonstrate normal somatic growth, lung maturation and brain growth and myelination.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15112
JournalNature communications
Volume8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2017

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