IJCEM Copyright © 2008-All rights reserved. Published by e-Century Publishing Corporation, Madison, WI 53711
Int J Clin Exp Med 2010;3(3):293-302

Original Article
Characterization of a model of necrotizing enterocolitis in newborn mice

Runlan Tian, Shirley X.L. Liu, Cara Williams, Thomas D. Soltau, Reed Dimmitt,  Isabelle G. De Plaen

Departments of Pediatrics (Neonatology) and Pathology, Children's Memorial Hospital, Northwestern University Medical School,
Chicago, IL, USA; Department of Pediatrics (Neonatology), University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.

Received July 13, 2010; accepted September 16, 2010; available online September 21, 2010

Abstract: Background: Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a major health concern for premature infants and its pathogenesis remains
poorly understood.  The current mouse NEC model has not well been characterized.  Objectives: In this study, we develop a simple
mouse model of NEC and determine the role of several factors modulating human NEC (i.e., breast milk, birth weight, cesarean
section and bacteria) on intestinal injury.  Methods: In a first experiment, pups born naturally and dam fed for <12 hours were gavaged
with adult commensal bacteria or E. fecalis, and exposed to hypoxia-cold stress-formula feeding, and compared with controls without
bacteria inoculation. 72-hour mortality was recorded, and small intestines were examined histologically.  In a second experiment, we
compared the incidence of NEC in mice dam fed for <12 hours to those dam fed for 12 to 24 hours or delivered by cesarean section
prior to being submitted to the NEC protocol.  Results: In pups inoculated with 107CFU of a standardized preparation of adult
commensal bacteria or 105 CFU of E. fecalis, the incidence of severe NEC (≥grade 2) was 70% and 58% respectively vs 6% in the
controls (no bacteria)(p<0.05).  In pups dam fed for 12 to 24 hours, NEC incidence was 44(12)% lower vs those dam fed less than 12
hours (p<0.05).  We did not find any difference in the NEC incidence between naturally-born pups dam fed for less than 12 hours and
these born by cesarean section.  The incidence of severe NEC was higher in pups with low birth weight.  Conclusions: we have
simplified and characterized a neonatal mouse NEC model that shares several risk factors with human NEC.  Now that transgenic
mice are available, this model will be useful to study the role played by specific proteins in vivo in NEC development. (IJCEM1007003).

Keywords: Necrotizing enterocolitis, animal model, mouse, intestine

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Address all correspondence to:
Isabelle G. De Plaen, MD
Department of Pediatrics/Neonatology, #45
Children's Memorial Hospital, 2300 Children's Plaza
Chicago, IL 60614.
Tel: (773) 880 4142; Fax: (773) 880 3061
E-mail:
isabelledp@northwestern.edu.