Despite a 35% decline in the mortality rate for infants aged <5 years over the past two decades, every year nearly 40% of all deaths in this age group occur in the neonatal period, defined as the first 28 days of life. New knowledge on molecular and biochemical pathways in neonatal diseases will lead to the discovery of new candidate biomarkers potentially useful in clinical practice. In the era of personalized medicine, biomarkers may play a strategic role in accelerating the decline in neonatal mortality by assessing the risk of developing neonatal diseases, by implementing tailored therapeutic treatment, and by predicting the clinical outcome. However, there is an urgent need to reduce the gap in translating newly acquired knowledge from bench to bedside. Traditional and candidate biomarkers for neonatal sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis will be discussed in this review, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), procalcitonin (PCT), serum amyloid A (SAA), soluble form of CD14 subtype presepsin (sCD14-ST), lipolysaccharide binding protein (LBP), angiopoietins (Ang)-1 and -2, soluble form of triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells (sTREM-1), soluble form of urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), platelet-activating factor (PAF) and calprotectin. New frontiers in managing critically ill newborns may be opened by metabolomics, a diagnostic tool based on the recognition of metabolites contained in biological fluids. Metabolomics represents the passage from a descriptive science to a predictive science, having the potential to translate benchtop research to real clinical benefits.
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