Composition of early life leukocyte populations in preterm infants with and without late-onset sepsis

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Background Composition of leukocyte populations in the first month of life remains incompletely characterised, particularly in preterm infants who go on to develop late-onset sepsis (LOS). Aim To characterise and compare leukocyte populations in preterm infants with and without LOS during the first month of life. Study design Single-centre prospective observational cohort study. Participants Infants born <30 weeks gestational age (GA). Outcome measures Peripheral blood samples were collected at 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days of life. Leukocyte populations were characterised using 5-fluorophore-6-marker flow cytometry. Absolute leukocyte counts and frequency of total CD45+ leukocytes of each population were adjusted for GA, birth weight z-scores, sex and total leukocyte count. Results Of 119 preterm infants enrolled, 43 (36%) had confirmed or clinical LOS, with a median onset at 13 days (range 6-26). Compared to infants without LOS, the adjusted counts and frequency of neutrophils, basophils and non-cytotoxic T lymphocytes were generally lower and immature granulocytes were higher over the first month of life in infants who developed LOS. Specific time point comparisons identified lower adjusted neutrophil counts on the first day of life in those infants who developed LOS more than a week later, compared to those without LOS, albeit levels were within the normal age-adjusted range. Non-cytotoxic T lymphocyte counts and/or frequencies were lower in infants following LOS on days 21 and 28 when compared to those who did not develop LOS. Conclusion Changes in non-cytotoxic T lymphocytes occurred following LOS suggesting sepsisinduced immune suppression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0264768
JournalPLoS One
Issue number3 March
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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