Extremely preterm infants are at risk of developing retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) that can cause impaired vision or blindness. Changes in blood lipids have been associated with ROP. This study aimed to monitor longitudinal changes in the serum sphingolipidome of extremely preterm infants and investigate the relationship to severe ROP development.
This is a prospective study that included 47 infants born <28 gestational weeks. Serum samples were collected from cord blood and at postnatal days 1, 7, 14, and 28, and at postmenstrual weeks (PMW) 32, 36, and 40. Serum sphingolipids and phosphatidylcholines were extracted and analyzed by LC-MS/MS. Associations between sphingolipid species and ROP were assessed using mixed models for repeated measures.
The serum concentration of all investigated lipid classes, including ceramide, mono- di- and trihexosylceramide, sphingomyelin, and phosphatidylcholine displayed distinct temporal patterns between birth and PMW40. There were also substantial changes in the lipid species composition within each class. Among the analyzed sphingolipid species, sphingosine-1-phosphate showed the strongest association with severe ROP, and this association was independent of gestational age at birth and weight standard deviation score change.
The serum phospho- and sphingolipidome undergoes significant remodeling during the first weeks of the preterm infant’s life. Low postnatal levels of the signaling lipid sphingosine-1-phosphate are associated with the development of severe ROP.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.