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Increased serum levels of interleukin 6 are associated with severe intraventricular haemorrhage in extremely premature infants
  1. A Heep1,
  2. D Behrendt1,
  3. P Nitsch1,
  4. R Fimmers2,
  5. P Bartmann1,
  6. J Dembinski1
  1. 1Department of Neonatology, Informatics and Epidemiology, University of Bonn, Germany
  2. 2Institute for Medical Biometry, Informatics and Epidemiology, University of Bonn, Germany
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr Heep
    Department of Neonatology, Friedrich Wilhelm University, Adenauerallee 119, D-53113 Bonn, Germany;


Background: Intraventricular haemorrhage (IVH) and periventricular leucomalacia (PVL) in premature infants presumably have many causes. It has been proposed that inflammatory processes in the fetomaternal unit play an important role in the pathogenesis of these lesions.

Objective: To study the correlation of postpartum serum interleukin 6 (IL6) concentration as a marker of inflammation and neonatal cerebral morbidity in preterm infants < 28 weeks of gestational age.

Methods: A total of 88 infants were grouped according to maximum serum IL6 levels within 12 hours post partum: group A (n = 50), ⩽ 100 pg/ml; group B (n = 38), > 100 pg/ml. Ultrasound studies and clinical assessment were performed routinely.

Results: IVH was noted significantly more often in group B (24/38; 63%) than in group A (19/50; 38%) (p = 0.02). In a multiple logistic regression model, raised serum IL6 independently predicted development of severe IVH (odds ratio 8.4; 95% confidence interval 2.85 to 24.9; p = 0.0001).

Conclusions: Raised serum IL6 may serve as a marker for severe IVH in infants < 28 weeks of gestational age. Although cerebral morbidity in premature infants is determined by different variables, the identification of systemic inflammation can help to define the need for anti-inflammatory strategies to prevent cerebral morbidity.

  • intraventricular haemorrhage
  • inflammatory response syndrome
  • interleukin 6
  • preterm infant
  • IL, interleukin
  • IVH, intraventricular haemorrhage
  • PVL, periventricular leucomalacia

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