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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The effect of betamethasone on neonatal neutrophil chemotaxis.

Antenatal maternal glucocorticoid administration has been widely used to accelerate fetal lung maturation. Glucocorticoids have also been used postnatally in selected neonates as antiinflammatory agents. Numerous studies have shown that glucocorticoids inhibit multiple components of the immune system including neutrophil (PMN) function in children and adults. Since PMNs are of critical importance in host defense against bacterial infection, impaired PMN function in newborn infants is thought to be an important cause of their increased morbidity and mortality from bacterial infection. Further compromise of neonatal PMN function by exogenous factors such as glucocorticoids may therefore be of significant clinical importance. A micropore filter chemotactic assay was used to determine the in vitro effect of betamethasone on the random migration and directed migration (chemotaxis) of PMNs from 18 neonates. The addition of a concentration of betamethasone (0.01 microgram/ml) similar to that found in cord blood following a standard dose administered to the mother resulted in a significant (p less than 0.01) inhibition in mean neonatal PMN random migration (-15.0 +/- 0.8%) and chemotaxis (-23.5 +/- 3.0%). A similar inhibition was not found when PMNs from 14 adults were exposed to the same concentrations of betamethasone. Betamethasone administration to pregnant women or their newborn infants may further impair PMN motility and lead to an increased morbidity and mortality from bacterial infection in neonates.[1]


  1. The effect of betamethasone on neonatal neutrophil chemotaxis. Fuenfer, M.M., Herson, V.C., Raye, J.R., Woronick, C.L., Eisenfeld, L., Ingardia, C.J., Block, C.F., Krause, P.J. Pediatr. Res. (1987) [Pubmed]
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