The EXTrauterine Environment for Neonatal Development Supports Normal Intestinal Maturation and Development

Heron D. Baumgarten, Christina M. Wright, Avery C. Rossidis, Kendall M. Lawrence, Aimee G. Kim, Ali Y. Mejaddam, Patrick E. McGovern, Melissa N. Orr, Barbara E. Coons, Zoya Butt, Haiying Li, Grace Hwang, Antoneta Radu, Lauren J. Brown, Ronald C. Rubenstein, William H. Peranteau, Marcus Davey, Robert O. Heuckeroth, Alan W. Flake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Background and Aims: The Extra-Uterine Environment for Neonatal Development (EXTEND) aims to avoid the complications of prematurity, such as NEC. Our goal was to determine if bowel development occurs normally in EXTEND-supported lambs, with specific emphasis on markers of immaturity associated with NEC. Methods: We compared terminal ileum from 17 pre-term lambs supported on EXTEND for 2- 4 weeks to bowel from age-matched fetal lambs that developed in utero. We evaluated morphology, markers of epithelial integrity and maturation, enteric nervous system structure, and bowel motility. Results: EXTEND-supported lamb ileum had normal villus height, crypt depth, density of mucin-containing goblet cells, and enteric neuron density. Expression patterns for I-FABP, activated caspase-3 and EGFR were normal in bowel epithelium. Transmural resistance assessed in Ussing chambers was normal. Bowel motility was also normal as assessed by ex vivo organ bath and video imaging. However, Peyer's patch organization did not occur normally in EXTEND ileum, resulting in fewer circulating B cells in experimental animals. Conclusion: EXTEND supports normal ileal epithelial and enteric nervous system maturation in pre-term lambs. The classic morphologic changes and cellular expression profiles associated with NEC are not seen. However, immune development within the EXTEND supported lamb bowel does not progress normally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-637
Number of pages15
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020


  • Bowel Development
  • Extreme Prematurity
  • Fetal Lamb
  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis


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