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Mol Immunol. 2009 Aug;46(13):2597-603. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 Jun 18.

M-ficolin in the neonatal period: Associations with need for mechanical ventilation and mortality in premature infants with necrotising enterocolitis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Inselspital, University of Bern, Switzerland.



Necrotising enterocolitis (NEC) causes significant mortality in premature infants. The involvement of the innate immune system in the pathogenesis of NEC remains unclear. M-, L- and H-ficolins recognize microorganisms and activate the complement system, but their role in host defense is largely unknown. This study investigated whether ficolin concentrations are associated with NEC.


Case-control study including 30 premature infants with NEC and 60 controls. M-, L- and H-ficolins were measured in cord blood using time-resolved immunofluorometric assays. Multivariate logistic regression was performed.


Of the 30 NEC cases (median gestational age, 29.5 weeks), 12 (40%) were operated and 4 (13%) died. No difference regarding ficolin concentration was found when comparing NEC cases versus controls (p>0.05). However, infants who died of NEC had significantly lower M-ficolin cord blood concentrations than NEC survivors (for M-ficolin <300ng/ml; multivariate OR 12.35, CI 1.03-148.59, p=0.048). In the entire study population, M-, L- and H-ficolins were positively correlated with gestational age (p<0.001) and birth weight (p<0.001). Infants with low M-ficolin required significantly more often mechanical ventilation after birth multivariate (OR 10.55, CI 2.01-55.34, p=0.005).


M-, L- and H-ficolins are already present in cord blood and increase with gestational age. Low cord blood concentration of M-ficolin was associated with higher NEC-associated fatality and with increased need for mechanical ventilation. Future studies need to assess whether M-ficolin is involved in multiorgan failure and pulmonary disease.

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