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Emilee Rader

Associate Professor and AT&T Scholar @ Michigan State University

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Ontogeny of alkaline phosphatase activity in infant intestines and breast milk

by: Ye Yang, Emilee Rader, Michele Peters-Carr, Rebecca C. Bent, Jennifer Smilowitz, Karen Guillemin, and Bethany Rader

Abstract

Background: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a devastating disease of intestinal inflammation that primarily affects premature infants. A potential risk factor for necrotizing enterocolitis is exposure of the premature neonatal intestine to environmental bacteria and their proinflammatory products such as lipopolysaccharide. The metalloenzyme alkaline phosphatase (ALP) has been shown to reduce lipopolysaccharide-mediated inflammation. Additionally, premature rat pups have reduced alkaline phosphatase activity and expression as compared to full term pups. To explore the possibility that the human premature neonatal intestine has a paucity of alkaline phosphatase activity, we measured endogenously produced intestinal alkaline phosphatase activity in meconium as a function of gestational age. To test whether breast milk could serve as a source of exogenous alkaline phosphatase to the neonatal intestine through ingestion, we measured alkaline phosphatase activity in breast milk across a range of time points post-birth.

Methods: Alkaline phosphatase activity was quantified in 122 meconium samples from infants of gestational ages ranging from 24 to 40 weeks and in 289 breast milk samples collected from 78 individual mothers between days 2–49 post-birth.

Results: We observed a strong positive correlation between the meconium alkaline phosphatase activity and gestational age, with preterm infants having lower meconium alkaline phosphatase activities than early term or term infants. Breast milk alkaline phosphatase activity was highest in the first week post-birth, with peak alkaline phosphatase activity at day 2 post-birth, followed by relatively low alkaline phosphatase activity in weeks 2–7.

Conclusions: Our results are consistent with the two major risk factors for necrotizing enterocolitis development, preterm birth and lack of breast milk feeding, both contributing to a paucity of alkaline phosphatase activity and impaired capacity to detoxify proinflammatory bacterial products such as lipopolysaccharide.

Keywords: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), Meconium, LPS detoxification, Gestational age

Reference

Ye Yang, Emilee Rader, Michele Peters-Carr, Rebecca C. Bent, Jennifer Smilowitz, Karen Guillemin, and Bethany Rader. “Ontogeny of alkaline phosphatase activity in infant intestines and breast milkBMC Pediatrics. Vol. 19 No. 2 2019.

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