Reduced serum amino acid concentrations in infants with necrotizing enterocolitis Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To determine whether premature infants who have necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) have deficiencies in glutamine (GLN) and arginine (ARG), which are essential to intestinal integrity. STUDY DESIGN: A 4-month prospective cohort study of serum amino acid and urea levels in premature infants was done. Serum amino acid and urea levels were measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography and enzymatic methods, respectively, on samples obtained on days of life 3, 7, 14, and 21. RESULTS: Infants in the control (n = 32) and NEC groups (n = 13) were comparable for birth weight, gestational age, and Apgar scores. NEC began on mean day of life 14.5 (95% CI, day of life 11 to 18). Median values of GLN were 37% to 57% lower in the NEC group on days 7, 14, and 21 compared with those in the control group (P <.05). On days 7 and 14, median values of ARG, GLN, alanine, lysine, ornithine, and threonine were decreased 36% to 67% (P <.05) in the NEC group. Total nonessential amino and total essential amino acids were 35% to 50% lower in the NEC group on days 7 and 14 (P <.05). Infants in the NEC group had significant reductions in GLN and ARG 7 days before the onset of NEC. CONCLUSIONS: Infants who have NEC have selective amino acid deficiencies including reduced levels of GLN and ARG that may predispose to the illness.

author list (cited authors)

  • Becker, R. M., Wu, G., Galanko, J. A., Chen, W., Maynor, A. R., Bose, C. L., & Rhoads, J. M.

citation count

  • 170
  • 172

publication date

  • December 2000