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Pediatr Pathol. 1994 Nov-Dec;14(6):1017-28.

Role of asphyxia and feeding in a neonatal rat model of necrotizing enterocolitis.

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Department of Pediatrics, Evanston Hospital, IL 60201.


Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a common gastrointestinal disorder affecting premature infants. To investigate critically the importance of the purported risk factors of NEC (formula feeding, asphyxia, bacteria, and prematurity), we developed a neonatal rat model that closely mimics the human disease. Full-term and premature newborn rats were stressed with formula feeding, asphyxia, and/or exogenous bacterial colonization and subsequently evaluated grossly and histologically for the development of intestinal injury. We found that most animals treated with asphyxia, formula feeding, and bacteria developed NEC (77%) and died (86%) by 96 h. All maternally fed animals treated with asphyxia and bacterial colonization survived and had normal intestinal histology. Furthermore, asphyxia was a critical instigating factor, because formula and bacterial exposure without asphyxia resulted in normal intestine and minimal mortality (12%). Enteral bacterial colonization was not a significant determinant of NEC in this model. We conclude that the neonatal rat model is an excellent test system for the study of NEC. As in the human disease, asphyxia and formula feeding play an important role in the pathophysiology of experimental NEC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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