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J Pediatr. 2011 Jan;158(1):57-64, 64.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.06.051. Epub 2010 Aug 6.

Correlation between serum caffeine levels and changes in cytokine profile in a cohort of preterm infants.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neonatology, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.



To determine changes in cytokine levels associated with caffeine treatment in a cohort of preterm infants.


For this observational prospective study, we collected clinical data from 26 preterm infants (≤ 30 weeks gestational age). In addition to caffeine levels, cytokine profiles in peripheral blood (PB) and tracheal aspirates (TA) were determined with enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay at birth, before and after (at 24 hours and 1 week) initiation of caffeine. Non-parametric statistics were applied.


Included infants were 26.9 ± 1.7 weeks gestational age and weighed 985 ± 202 g. At birth, all cytokine concentrations were significantly greater in TA than PB. Serum caffeine levels were 11.1 μg/mL (interquartile range, 1.85) at approximately 24 hours post-load and 16.4 (8.7) μg/mL at 1 week on treatment. At approximately 24 hours post-load, interleukin (IL)-10 levels decreased by 47.5% (P = .01) in PB and 38.5% (P = .03) in TA, whereas other cytokine levels remained unchanged. At 1 week, caffeine levels were correlated (U-shaped) with changes in proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor-α (R(2) = 0.65; P = .0008), interleukin (IL)-1β (R(2) = 0.73; P = .0007), and IL-6 (R(2) = 0.59; P = .003), whereas inversely correlated (linear) with the anti-inflammatory IL-10 (R(2) = 0.64; P = .0008). Altogether, caffeine, at serum levels ≥ 20 μg/mL, was associated with a proinflammatory profile after 1 week of treatment.


Caffeine treatment for apnea of prematurity correlates with changes in cytokine profile. Caffeine levels ≥ 20 μg/mL are associated with a proinflammatory profile in our cohort of preterm infants.

Copyright © 2011 Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.

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