Background and Objective. Early identification of neonates at risk for brain injury is important to start appropriate intervention. Urinary metabolomics is a source of potential, noninvasive biomarkers of brain disease. We studied the urinary metabolic profile at 2 and 10 days in preterm neonates with normal/mild and moderate/severe MRI abnormalities at term equivalent age. Methods. Urine samples were collected at two and 10 days after birth in 30 extremely preterm infants and analyzed using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. A 3 T MRI was performed at term equivalent age, and images were scored for white matter (WM), cortical grey matter (cGM), deep GM, and cerebellar abnormalities. Infants were divided in two groups: normal/mild and moderately/severely abnormal MRI scores. Results. No significant clustering was seen between normal/mild and moderate/ severe MRI scores for all regions at both time points. The ROC curves distinguished neonates at 2 and 10 days who later developed a markedly less mature cGM score from the others (2 d: area under the curve (AUC) = 0.72, specificity (SP) = 65%, sensitivity (SE) = 75% and 10 d: AUC = 0.80, SP = 78%, SE = 80%) and a moderately to severely abnormal WM score (2 d: AUC = 0.71, specificity (SP) = 80%, sensitivity (SE) = 72% and 10 d: AUC = 0.69, SP = 64%, SE = 89%). Conclusions. Early urinary spectra of preterm infants were able to discriminate metabolic profiles in patients with moderately/severely abnormal cGM and WM scores at term equivalent age. Urine spectra are promising for early identification of neonates at risk of brain damage and allow understanding of the pathogenesis of altered brain development.
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