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Gastroenterology. 1990 Nov;99(5):1333-8.

Prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in the rat with prenatal cortisone.

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Department of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston.


Cortisone acetate is known to accelerate maturation of the immature intestine. The effect of prenatal administration of cortisone acetate on the morbidity and mortality of necrotizing enterocolitis was examined in a rat pup model. Pregnant rats were administered cortisone acetate, 20 mg/100 g of body weight, or normal saline by daily IP injection from day 18-21 of gestation. Rat pups were taken from the mothers before suckling was initiated, fed a simulated rat milk formula, and subjected to daily ischemic insults to produce an animal model of necrotizing enterocolitis. Both morbidity and the mortality rates were significantly improved with prenatal cortisone treatment. Maturation of the intestinal mucosal barrier was accelerated with the cortisone treatment as measured by decreased serum concentrations of a fed antigen, ovalbumin. Aerobic bacterial colonization of the small intestine and translocation of bacteria to the liver were decreased in the pups pretreated with steroids. These changes observed in a rat model of necrotizing enterocolitis may explain the decreased incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis in human infants born to mothers who received corticosteroids late in gestation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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