Inflammatory and growth mediators in growing preterm infants

Irfan Ahmad, Frank Zaldivar, Kensho Iwanaga, Robin Koeppel, Donna Grochow, Dan Nemet, Feizal Waffarn, Alon Eliakim, Szu Yun Leu, Dan M. Cooper*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Little is understood about the optimal balance between IGF-I and antagonistic inflammatory mediators, such as IL-6, in growing preterm infants. Using a prospective cohort study, we investigated the relationship between postnatal growth of preterm infants and key growth and inflammatory mediators. We studied 51 stable, growing preterm infants (mean gestational age: 27.8 ± 0.4 weeks, mean birth weight: 1,032.8 ± 50.6 g). IL-6 and IL-1ra (reflecting stress/ inflammation) and IGF-I and GHBP (reflecting anabolic activity and GH sensitivity) were measured at enrollment and discharge using ELISA. During the observation period (mean 6.1 ± 0.34 weeks) there was a significant increase in weight (1,396 ± 81 g, p <0.0001). IGF-I increased from 46.6 ± 4.1 to 88.7 ± 5.2 ng/ml (p <0.001). In contrast, IL-6 decreased from 9.5 ± 1.0 to 2.3 ± 0.34 pg/ml (p <0.001) and IL-1ra from 6,042 ± 362 to 4,851 ± 365 ng/ml (p = 0.007). GHBP increased from 65.8 ± 6.7 to 82.5 ± 7.9 ng/ml (p = 0.003). IL-6 was inversely correlated with IGF-I (p <0.001). In addition, a multiple regression model showed IGF-I levels correlated positively and IL-6 levels inversely with various parameters of growth. Growth in preterm infants is characterized by increases in IGF-I and GHBP with simultaneous decreases in IL-6 and IL-1ra. Efforts to optimally balance inflammatory and growth mediators may benefit somatic growth in infants very early in life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • IGF-I
  • IL-6
  • Preterm infant


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