Former very preterm infants show alterations in plasma amino acid profiles at a preschool age

Pediatr Res. 2017 May;81(5):787-794. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.24. Epub 2017 Jan 31.


Background: Amino acid analysis is a valuable tool for cardiovascular risk assessment. Preterm infants display plasma amino acid changes in the newborn period. Whether these changes persist is unknown to date. The aim of this study was to assess whether former very preterm infants (VPI) show alterations in amino acid patterns indicative of an unfavorable cardiovascular risk profile at a preschool age.

Methods: From 5-7 y-old children born at term or <32 wk gestation (VPI) were included in the study. Plasma amino acid concentrations were determined after an overnight fast.

Results: 29 former term infants and 79 former VPI were included in the study. Former VPI showed changes in various plasma amino acids including glutamine, arginine, citrulline, tryptophan, glutamate, ornithine, and taurine. Branched-chain amino acids were lower, alanine/lysine ratios significantly higher in the preterm population.

Conclusion: Former VPI show altered plasma amino acid profiles indicative of a dualistic cardiovascular risk profile (e.g., potentially beneficial elevations in citrulline, arginine, glutamine, and tryptophan, but also raised alanine/lysine ratios, low ornithine and taurine levels) at a preschool age. Whether this is associated with an adverse cardiovascular outcome has to be addressed by future studies. Long-term cardiometabolic follow-up of VPI might be warranted.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Amino Acids / blood*
  • Austria
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / blood
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature / growth & development*
  • Male
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Factors


  • Amino Acids
  • Biomarkers