Catabolic effect in premature infants with early dexamethasone treatment

Acta Paediatr. 1996 Dec;85(12):1487-90. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.1996.tb13957.x.


To evaluate the catabolic effects of dexamethasone therapy on protein metabolism, amino acid concentrations and urinary 3-methylhistidine (3MH) were measured in 28 premature infants who were included in a double-blind controlled study using early dexamethasone therapy in the prevention of bronchopulmonary dysplasia. Fifteen infants received dexamethasone (0.5 mg/kg/day i.v.) and 13 infants received normal saline as control. Heparinized venous blood samples for amino acid analysis were obtained before the study and again at day 5 after starting the study. Urinary 3MH was measured on days 1, 3, 5, 7, 14, 21, and 28 of treatment. A substantial increase in amino acid concentrations was observed in infants receiving dexamethasone. Alanine, glutamine, citrulline, ornithine and cystine concentrations increased twofold or more. The 3MH:creatinine ratio was increased in the treated group. These metabolic effects were most likely due to an increase in protein catabolism.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / blood
  • Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia / prevention & control
  • Creatinine / urine
  • Dexamethasone / administration & dosage
  • Dexamethasone / adverse effects*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Methylhistidines / urine
  • Proteins / metabolism*


  • Amino Acids
  • Methylhistidines
  • Proteins
  • Dexamethasone
  • Creatinine
  • 3-methylhistidine