Fecal calprotectin in very low birth weight infants

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2007 Apr;44(4):407-13. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3180320643.


Objectives: To measure concentrations of fecal calprotectin (f-calprotectin) in infants with very low birth weight (VLBW; <1500 g) longitudinally and to describe changes in f-calprotectin in infants who develop severe abdominal disease.

Patients and methods: The study included 59 VLBW infants. Seven patients (disease group) developed severe abdominal disease defined as necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) or a condition leading to laparotomy. The remainder (n = 52) were considered reference infants and had a mean (+/-SD) gestational age of 27.2 +/- 2.6 weeks and a birth weight of 939 +/- 273 g. F-calprotectin was analyzed in meconium and weekly during postnatal weeks 1 to 8. In disease cases, more frequent samples were analyzed around the time of abdominal disease diagnosis.

Results: In reference infants the median (range) f-calprotectin level in meconium was 332 (12-9386) microg/g and correlated negatively to Apgar score. F-calprotectin in postmeconium samples was 253 (9-1867) microg/g and correlated positively to delivery by cesarean section, postnatal age, and volume of enteral feeds, and negatively to treatment with antibiotics and corticosteroids. In reference infants no postmeconium sample had f-calprotectin levels >2000 microg/g. In disease cases f-calprotectin was increased to >2000 microg/g in 3 cases of NEC and 1 case of covered perforation with microscopic bowel inflammation. In 1 case of NEC without microscopic bowel inflammation and 2 cases of focal intestinal perforation, f-calprotectin levels never exceeded 2000 microg/g.

Conclusions: F-calprotectin concentrations in VLBW infants are similar to previously reported levels in healthy term and moderately preterm infants. An f-calprotectin level >2000 microg/g is a useful but not an early marker of NEC and other severe intestinal inflammatory conditions in VLBW infants.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Enterocolitis, Necrotizing / diagnosis
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Very Low Birth Weight*
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex / analysis*
  • Male
  • Meconium / chemistry


  • Biomarkers
  • Leukocyte L1 Antigen Complex