Brain inflammation and injury at 48 h is not altered by human amnion epithelial cells in ventilated preterm lambs

Fraser Nott, J. Jane Pillow, MarJanna Dahl, Sharmony B. Kelly, Jacqueline Melville, Courtney McDonald, Ilias Nitsos, Rebecca Lim, Euan M. Wallace, Graham Jenkin, Graeme R. Polglase, Timothy J. Moss, Robert Galinsky

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Mechanical ventilation of preterm neonates is associated with neuroinflammation and an increased risk of adverse neurological outcomes. Human amnion epithelial cells (hAECs) have anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties. We aimed to determine if intravenous administration of hAECs to preterm lambs would reduce neuroinflammation and injury at 2 days of age. Methods: Preterm lambs were delivered by cesarean section at 128−130 days’ gestation (term is ~147 days) and either ventilated for 48 h or humanely killed at birth. Lambs received 3 mL surfactant (Curosurf) via endotracheal tube prior to delivery (either with or without 90 × 106 hAECs) and 3 mL intravenous phosphate-buffered saline (with or without 90 × 106 hAECs, consistent with intratracheal treatment) after birth. Results: Ventilation increased microglial activation, total oligodendrocyte cell number, cell proliferation and blood−brain barrier permeability (P < 0.05, PBS + ventilation and hAEC + ventilation vs. control), but did not affect numbers of immature and mature oligodendrocytes. Ventilation reduced astrocyte and neuron survival (P < 0.05, PBS + ventilation and hAEC + ventilation vs. control). hAEC administration did not alter markers of neuroinflammation or injury within the white or gray matter. Conclusions: Mechanical ventilation for 48 h upregulated markers of neuroinflammation and injury in preterm lambs. Administration of hAECs did not affect markers of neuroinflammation or injury. Impact: Mechanical ventilation of preterm lambs for 48 h, in a manner consistent with contemporary neonatal intensive care, causes neuroinflammation, neuronal loss and pathological changes in oligodendrocyte and astrocyte survival consistent with evolving neonatal brain injury.Intravenous administration of hAECs immediately after birth did not affect neonatal cardiorespiratory function and markers of neuroinflammation or injury.Reassuringly, our findings in a translational large animal model demonstrate that intravenous hAEC administration to the preterm neonate is safe.Considering that hAECs are being used in phase 1 trials for the treatment of BPD in preterm infants, with future trials planned for neonatal neuroprotection, we believe these observations are highly relevant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-37
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019

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