Milk-Borne EGF and Necrotizing Enterocolitis in Neonatal Rat Model
Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common gastrointestinal (GI) disease of premature infants with excessive morbidity and mortality that afflicts 3,000 to 4,000 babies in the United States each year.1 Many factors contribute to the development of NEC, mainly prematurity, enteral feeding, infectious agents and/or intestinal hypoxia-ischemia. Enteral feeding is nearly always a prerequisite for the development of NEC, but the exact mechanism of NEC pathogenesis is poorly understood. The protective role of maternal milk in NEC pathogenesis has been reported.2 Various components of milk have been tested to protect the gut against NEC.3 Epidermal growth factor (EGF) is a promising candidate for the treatment of NEC. Mammalian milk of many species contains high concentrations of EGF. Moreover, maternal milk is the major source of EGF for neonates during the suckling period.4 In contrast, EGF is absent in all commercial infant formulas. Strong effects of exogenous EGF on healing of damaged gastrointestinal mucosa or on intestinal adaptation after injury are reported in a number of studies.5 The aim of this study was to examine the effects of milk-borne EGF on the development of NEC in a neonatal rat model.
KeywordsEnteral Feeding Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency Intestinal Adaptation Maternal Milk Suckling Period