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Neonatology. 2013;104(1):56-64. doi: 10.1159/000351040. Epub 2013 May 24.

Low urine vascular endothelial growth factor levels are associated with mechanical ventilation, bronchopulmonary dysplasia and retinopathy of prematurity.

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Division of Newborn Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Mass., USA.



Organ-specific vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) expression is decreased during the pathogenesis of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) several weeks before either disease can be diagnosed. Early measurement of organ-specific tissue VEGF levels might allow identification of infants at high risk for these diseases, but is not clinically feasible. Urine VEGF is easily measured and useful in early diagnosis of several diseases.


Our aims were to assess the correlation of urine VEGF levels measured in the first postnatal month with subsequent BPD or ROP diagnosis and to determine whether various infant characteristics influence urine VEGF levels.


106 subjects born at <29 weeks' gestation and surviving to 36 weeks' postmenstrual age were selected from an existing database and biorepository. Urine VEGF and total protein were measured in 2-3 samples per subject.


Urine VEGF/protein levels increased by 72% per week (p < 0.0001) during the first postnatal month. In multivariable analysis controlling for postnatal age, lower VEGF/protein was associated with higher levels of mechanical respiratory support (p = 0.006), male gender (p = 0.001) and early sepsis (p = 0.003) but not with fraction of inspired oxygen. Lower urine VEGF/protein and mechanical ventilation were each associated with BPD and ROP. In analyses adjusted for respiratory support, lower urine VEGF/protein and ROP remained associated but urine VEGF/protein and BPD did not.


Low urine VEGF/protein levels in the first postnatal month are associated with mechanical ventilation, BPD, and ROP.

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