The long-term effect of erythropoiesis stimulating agents given to preterm infants: a proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study on neurometabolites in early childhood.
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Erythropoiesis stimulating agents (ESAs) are neuroprotective in cell and animal models of preterm birth. Prematurity has been shown to alter neurometabolite levels in children in studies using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS).We hypothesized that ESA treatment in premature infants would tend to normalize neurometabolites by 4-6 years of age.Children in a longitudinal study of neurodevelopment underwent MRI and 1H-MRS at approximately 4 years and 6 years of age. Prematurely born children (500-1,250 g birth weight) received ESAs (erythropoietin or darbepoetin) or placebo during their neonatal hospitalization, and these groups were compared to healthy term controls. 1H-MRS spectra were obtained from the anterior cingulate (gray matter) and frontal lobe white matter, assessing combined N-acetylaspartate and N-acetylaspartylglutamate (tNAA), myo-inositol, choline compounds (Cho), combined creatine and phosphocreatine, and combined glutamate and glutamine.No significant (P≤0.5) group differences were observed for any metabolite level. Significant age-related increases in white-matter tNAA and Cho were observed, as well as a trend for increased gray-matter tNAA.Neither prematurity nor neonatal ESA treatment was associated with differences in brain metabolite levels in the children of this study at a significance level of 0.05. These findings suggest that earlier differences that might have existed had normalized by 4-6 years of age or were too small to be statistically significant in the current sample.