What is it about?

Using metabolomics, it is possible to find specific metabolites which may predict a patient's certain outcome. We performed metabolomic characterization of the urines of newborns after perinatal asphyxia, in order to find some predictors of evolution into moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, which in turn would identify the patients deserving a prompt treatment with therapeutic hypothermia. We found that L-lysine and L-3-methylhistidine could be useful urinary markers for this purpose.

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Why is it important?

The identified metabolites could represent useful markers to get a quick characterization of the evolution of a particular asphyctic newborn into the worse grades of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. This is of particular importance since the only approved treatment to date for such condition is therapeutic hypothermia, which, hovewer, must be commenced within six hours from birth to grant neuroprotection. This short time frame may pose a challenge for the clinician, since tools that provide a more precise assessment of the impact of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, like brain magnetic resonance imaging, are to be performed after this "golden time window".


Our work paves the way to develop rapid bedside test that may facilitate the early identification of neonates with perinatal asphyxia at risk of developing the worst grades of hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, allowing a timely start of therapeutic hypothermia.

Enrico Valerio
Department of Womens' and Children's Health, University of Padova, Italy

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This page is a summary of: Urinary metabotypes of newborns with perinatal asphyxia undergoing therapeutic hypothermia, PLoS ONE, August 2022, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0273175.
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