Introduction:Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) has been recognized for over 40 years as a cause of inflammation and necrosis of the small and large intestine of infants born at less than 36 weeks of gestation. NEC remains a significant health problem for infants born prematurely and may become the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among these infants worldwide. The sequence of events leading to NEC is complex and multifactorial, although damage to the intestinal epithelium and invasion by bacteria are known to play central roles in disease pathogenesis.Study Design:Bacteria initiate a cascade of inflammation that may progress to intestinal necrosis and perforation with sepsis and death.Result:Treatment of infants at risk for NEC with probiotic bacteria may be an area of great potential, as probiotic bacteria may promote maturation of the epithelial barrier and function to exclude bacterial pathogens from critical niches in the intestine, thereby disrupting a primary pathway in disease pathogenesis.Conclusion:Understanding how probiotic bacteria, or other novel therapies, prevent or limit disease propagation in NEC will be paramount in limiting the impact of disease in a growing population of premature newborns.
- Intestinal epithelial barrier
- Necrotizing enterocolitis
- Probiotic bacteria
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Obstetrics and Gynecology