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Evaluating the efficacy of different types of stem cells in preserving gut barrier function in necrotizing enterocolitis.

BACKGROUND: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in premature infants. Increased intestinal permeability is central to NEC development. We have shown that stem cells (SCs) can reduce the incidence and severity of NEC. Our current goal was to investigate the efficacy of four different types of SC in preservation of gut barrier function during NEC.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We compared (1) amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal SC, (2) bone marrow-derived mesenchymal SC, (3) amniotic fluid-derived neural SC, and (4) enteric neural SC. Premature rat pups received an intraperitoneal injection of 2 × 106 SC or phosphate-buffered saline only and were then subjected to experimental NEC. Control pups were breastfed and not subjected to NEC. After 48 h, animals received a single enteral dose of fluorescein isothiocyanate -labeled dextran (FD70), were sacrificed 4 h later, and serum FD70 concentrations determined.

RESULTS: Compared to breastfed, unstressed pups with intact gut barrier function and normal intestinal permeability (serum FD70 concentration 2.22 ± 0.271 μg/mL), untreated pups exposed to NEC had impaired barrier function with significantly increased permeability (18.6 ± 4.25 μg/mL, P = 0.047). Pups exposed to NEC but treated with SC had significantly reduced intestinal permeability: Amniotic fluid-derived mesenchymal SC (9.45 ± 1.36 μg/mL, P = 0.017), bone marrow-derived mesenchymal SC (6.73 ± 2.74 μg/mL, P = 0.049), amniotic fluid-derived neural SC (8.052 ± 1.31 μg/mL, P = 0.0496), and enteric neural SC (6.60 ± 1.46 μg/mL, P = 0.033).

CONCLUSIONS: SCs improve gut barrier function in experimental NEC. Although all four types of SC reduce permeability equivalently, SC derived from amniotic fluid may be preferable due to availability at delivery and ease of culture, potentially enhancing clinical translation.

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