Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Neonate. 2006;89(4):227-35. Epub 2005 Nov 29.

Epidermal growth factor reduces hepatic sequelae in experimental necrotizing enterocolitis.

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Steele Children's Research Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., USA.



Neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is the most common gastrointestinal disease of premature infants. We recently demonstrated that the gut/liver axis plays an important role in the pathophysiology of NEC through the release of inflammatory mediators into the intestinal lumen. We have also shown that supplementation of formula with epidermal growth factor (EGF) dramatically decreases ileal pathology associated with experimental NEC. In this study, we examined the effects of EGF on the liver portion of the gut/liver axis in the neonatal rat model of NEC.


Newborn rats were divided into three experimental groups, NEC, hand-fed with growth-factor free formula; NEC + EGF, hand-fed with formula supplemented with 500 ng/ml rat EGF; or DF, dam fed. All animals were exposed to asphyxia and cold stress twice daily for 4 days to develop NEC.


EGF receptor expression was significantly (p <or= 0.01) decreased in the NEC+EGF group compared to the NEC group. EGF supplementation significantly decreased Kupffer cell numbers (p <or= 0.01) as well as hepatic tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and interleukin-18 production (p <or= 0.05). Further, TNF-alpha in the intestinal luminal contents of the NEC+EGF group were normalized to levels observed in DF controls compared to the NEC group (p <or= 0.05). Activated nuclear factor-kappaB was also substantially decreased in the NEC+EGF group versus the NEC group.


The results of this study indicate that EGF normalizes cytokine overproduction in the liver of neonatal rats with NEC, which contributes to diminished intestinal damage during the development of experimental NEC. These data suggest that supplementation of formula with EGF can have beneficial effects on the gut/liver axis during NEC pathogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for S. Karger AG, Basel, Switzerland
Loading ...
Support Center