Blood metabolomics in infants enrolled in a dose escalation pilot trial of budesonide in surfactant

Philip L. Ballard, Dara Torgerson, Rajan Wadhawan, Mark L. Hudak, Joern Hendrik Weitkamp, Julia Harris, Jeanette Asselin, Cheryl Chapin, Roberta A. Ballard, Cindy T. McEvoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: The pathogenesis of BPD includes inflammation and oxidative stress in the immature lung. Corticosteroids improve respiratory status and outcome, but the optimal treatment regimen for benefit with low systemic effects is uncertain. Methods: In a pilot dose escalation trial, we administered ≤5 daily doses of budesonide in surfactant to 24 intubated premature infants (Steroid And Surfactant in ELGANs (SASSIE)). Untargeted metabolomics was performed on dried blood spots using UPLC-MS/MS. Tracheal aspirate IL-8 concentration was determined as a measure of lung inflammation. Results: Metabolomics data for 829 biochemicals were obtained on 121 blood samples over 96 h from 23 infants receiving 0.025, 0.05, or 0.1 mg budesonide/kg. Ninety metabolites were increased or decreased in a time- and dose-dependent manner at q ≤ 0.1 with overrepresentation in lipid and amino acid super pathways. Different dose response patterns occurred, with negative regulation associated with highest sensitivity to budesonide. Baseline levels of 22 regulated biochemicals correlated with lung inflammation (IL-8), with highest significance for sphingosine and thiamin. Conclusions: Numerous metabolic pathways are regulated in a dose-dependent manner by glucocorticoids, which apparently act via distinct mechanisms that impact dose sensitivity. The findings identify candidate blood biochemicals as biomarkers of lung inflammation and systemic responses to corticosteroids. Impact: Treatment of premature infants in respiratory failure with 0.1 mg/kg intra-tracheal budesonide in surfactant alters levels of ~11% of detected blood biochemicals in discrete time- and dose-dependent patterns.A subset of glucocorticoid-regulated biochemicals is associated with lung inflammatory status as assessed by lung fluid cytokine concentration.Lower doses of budesonide in surfactant than currently used may provide adequate anti-inflammatory responses in the lung with fewer systemic effects, improving the benefit:risk ratio.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)784-794
Number of pages11
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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