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Breath pentane as a marker for lipid peroxidation and adverse outcome in preterm infants


AIM To test the hypothesis that complications of neonatal intensive care are related to increased oxygen derived free radical activity, using breath pentane as a marker of lipid peroxidation.

METHODS Exhaled breath was collected daily from 57 ventilated preterm infants and pentane concentration measured by gas chromatography.

RESULTS High peak pentane exhalation was significantly associated with low gestational age, mortality, intraventricular haemorrhage and retinopathy of prematurity. Peak pentane was not significantly associated with the development of chronic lung disease.

CONCLUSIONS The demonstration that pentane exhalation is related to the course of neonatal disease and its outcome is consistent with the hypothesis that lipid peroxidation is associated with these illnesses, and may contribute to their severity. If this is a causal relation, antioxidant treatments could prove useful in reducing their severity. Measurement of breath pentane might assist in the assessment of antioxidant strategies prior to more extensive clinical trials.

  • oxygen derived free radicals
  • breath pentane
  • lipid peroxidation

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