Diminished epidermal growth factor levels in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis

Cathy E. Shin, Richard A. Falcone, Lorie Stuart, Christopher R. Erwin, Brad W. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Background/Purpose: Because epidermal growth factor (EGF) is trophic to the intestinal mucosa, and neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is associated with a disrupted intestinal mucosal barrier, the authors sought to determine whether diminished levels of EGF were present in infants with NEC. Methods: Saliva, serum, and urine specimens were obtained from infants with NEC during a 3-year period (February 1995 to May 1998). Control patients without NEC were chosen based on similar postnatal age and birthweight. EGF levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Differences between groups were compared using Mann-Whitney Rank sum test with P less than .05 considered significant. Results are presented as mean values ± SEM. Results: Twenty-five infants with NEC we re compared with 19 control patients. Birth weight (1,616 ± 238 g control v 1,271 ± 124 g NEC) and postnatal age (23 ± 6 days control v 22 ± 3 days NEC) were similar. Infants with NEC had significantly lower levels of EGF in both saliva (590 ± 80 pg/mL control v 239 ± 41 pg/mL NEC; P< .001) and serum (35 ± 8 pg/mL control v 5.6 ± 1.9 pg/mL NEC; P< .001). Urinary EGF was also lower in the NEC group, but was not statistically significant. Conclusions: Premature infants with NEC have significantly diminished levels of salivary and serum EGF. Reduced levels of this growth factor may distinguish infants at risk for NEC and play a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of the perturbed intestinal mucosal barrier that is central to this condition. Copyright (C) by W.B. Saunders Company.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2000


  • Bacterial translocation
  • Enterocolitis
  • Growth factor
  • Intestinal barrier
  • Prematurity
  • Saliva


Dive into the research topics of 'Diminished epidermal growth factor levels in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this