Role of platelets in neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis

Akhil Maheshwari

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Abstract: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is an inflammatory bowel necrosis of premature infants and is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in infants born between 23 and 28 weeks of gestation. Fifty to 95% of all infants with NEC develop thrombocytopenia (platelet counts <150 × 109/L) within 24–72 h of receiving this diagnosis. In many patients, thrombocytopenia is severe and is treated with one or more platelet transfusions. However, the underlying mechanism(s) and biological implications of NEC-related thrombocytopenia remain unclear. This review presents current evidence from human and animal studies on the clinical features and mechanisms of platelet depletion in NEC. Anecdotal clinical experience is combined with evidence from laboratory studies and from an extensive literature search in databases PubMed, EMBASE, and Scopus and the electronic archives of abstracts presented at the annual meetings of the Pediatric Academic Societies. To avoid bias in identification of existing studies, key words were short-listed prior to the actual search both from anecdotal experience and from PubMed’s Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) thesaurus. Impact: Fifty to 95% of infants with necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) develop idiopathic thrombocytopenia (platelet counts <150 × 109/L) within 24–72 h of disease onset.Early clinical trials suggest that moderate thrombocytopenia may be protective in human NEC, although further work is needed to fully understand this relationship.We have developed a neonatal murine model of NEC-related thrombocytopenia, where enteral administration of an immunological stimulant, trinitrobenzene sulfonate, on postnatal day 10 induces an acute necrotizing ileocolitis resembling human NEC.In this murine model, thrombocytopenia is seen at 15–18 h due to platelet consumption and mild–moderate thrombocytopenia is protective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1093
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of platelets in neonatal necrotizing enterocolitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this