Caffeine pharmacokinetics following umbilical vein injection during delayed cord clamping in preterm lambs

Pediatr Res. 2024 Mar 1. doi: 10.1038/s41390-024-03117-3. Online ahead of print.


Background: Spontaneous breathing during and after delayed cord clamping (DCC) stabilizes cardiopulmonary transition at birth. Caffeine stimulates breathing and decreases apnea in premature newborns. We evaluated the pharmacokinetics and physiological effects of early caffeine administration-direct injection into the umbilical vein (UV) during DCC or administered through a UV catheter (UVC) after delivery.

Methods: Eighteen extremely premature lambs (125-127d, term gestation 145d) were exteriorized and instrumented. Lambs received caffeine-citrate at high (40 mg/kg) or standard-dose (20 mg/kg) via direct UV (DUV) injection during DCC, or via the UVC.

Results: Mean peak plasma caffeine concentrations were lower with high-dose DUV compared to UVC (18 ± 4.3 vs. 46 ± 12 mg/L, p < 0.05). With standard-dose caffeine, mean peak plasma levels were 7.48 ± 2.6 with DUV and 28.73 ± 9.4 mg/L with UVC. The volume of distribution was higher in the DUV group compared to UVC (2.5 ± 1.0 vs. 0.69 ± 0.15 L/kg) with an estimated 39 ± 18% entering the maternal circulation. Maternal peak concentrations were 0.79 ± 0.71 and 1.43 ± 0.74 mg/L with standard and high-dose DUV, respectively.

Conclusions: Caffeine injected directly into the UV during DCC is feasible but achieves lower concentrations due to high volume of distribution including maternal circulation. Further trials evaluating DUV caffeine injection should use higher caffeine doses.

Impact: Respiratory stimulation with early caffeine may reduce the need for intubation in preterm infants. In the preterm lambs, caffeine injection directly into the umbilical vein during delayed cord clamping is feasible. Plasma caffeine concentrations are less than half when administered directly into the umbilical vein during delayed cord clamping compared to administration via an umbilical venous catheter following birth likely attributed to a larger volume of distribution or injection site leak. There were no significant hemodynamic alterations following caffeine injection.