We conducted a controlled, randomized trial to study the effect of minimal enteral feeding on leucine uptake by splanchnic tissues, as an indicator of maturation of these tissues, in preterm infants in the first week of life. Within a few hours after birth, while receiving only glucose, a primed constant infusion of [1-13C]-leucine was started and continued for 5 h via the nasogastric tube, whereas 5,5,5 D3-leucine was infused intravenously (for both tracers, priming dose 2 mg/kg, continuous infusion 2 mg/kg/h). Patients were thereafter randomized to receive solely parenteral nutrition (C), parenteral nutrition and 20 mL breast milk/kg/d (BM), or parenteral nutrition and 20 mL formula/kg/d (F). On d 7, the measurements were repeated, after discontinuing the oral intake for 5 h. Fourteen infants were included in group C, 12 in group BM, and 12 in group F. There was no difference in energy intake or nitrogen balance at any time. On d 1, plasma enrichment for the nasogastric tracer was lower than for the intravenous tracer for all three groups, both for leucine and for α-keto-isocaproic acid. On d 7, the enrichment for leucine and α-keto-isocaproic acid for the nasogastric tracer was lower than for the intravenous tracer for the groups BM and F (BM: 3.65 ± 1.20 nasogastric versus 4.64 ± 0.64 i.v.; F: 4.37 ± 1.14 nasogastric versus 5.21 ± 0.9 i.v.). In the control group, there was no difference between tracers. The lower plasma enrichment for the nasogastric tracer compared with the intravenous tracer suggests uptake of leucine by the splanchnic tissues. We conclude that minimal enteral feeding - even in low volumes of 20 mL/kg/d-increases the leucine uptake by the splanchnic tissue. We speculate that this reflects a higher protein synthesis of splanchnic tissues in the groups receiving enteral nutrition.

dx.doi.org/10.1203/01.PDR.0000047519.22873.3F, hdl.handle.net/1765/58513
Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology
Department of Pediatrics

de Pipaón, M.S, Vanbeek, R.H.T, Quero, J, Pérez, J, Wattimena, J.L.D, & Sauer, P.J.J. (2003). Effect of minimal enteral feeding on splanchnic uptake of leucine in the postabsorptive state in preterm infants. Pediatric Research: international journal of human developmental biology, 53(2), 281–287. doi:10.1203/01.PDR.0000047519.22873.3F