Long-term neurological effects of neonatal caffeine treatment in a rabbit model of preterm birth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Neonatal caffeine treatment might affect brain development. Long-term studies show conflicting results on brain-related outcomes. Herein we aimed to investigate the long-term effects of neonatal caffeine administration in a rabbit model of preterm birth. Methods: Preterm (born day 29) and term (day 32) pups were raised by wet nurses and allocated to treatment with saline or caffeine for 7 or 17 days. At pre-puberty, neurobehavioral tests were performed and brains were harvested for immunostaining of neurons, synapses, myelin, and astrocytes. Results: Survival was lower in preterm saline pups than in controls, whereas caffeine-treated preterm pups did not differ from term control pups. Preterm saline pups covered less distance compared to controls and were more likely to stay in the peripheral zone of the open field. Corresponding differences were not seen in preterm caffeine pups. Preterm animals had lower neuron density compared to controls, which was not influenced by caffeine treatment. Synaptic density, astrocytes, and myelin were not different between groups. Conclusion: Caffeine appeared to be safe. All preterm rabbits had lower neuron density but anxious behavior seen in preterm saline rabbits was not seen in caffeine-treated preterm pups.


External organisations
  • Catholic University of Leuven
  • ImaGene-iT AB
  • University College London
  • Skåne University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pediatrics
  • Neurosciences
Original languageEnglish
JournalPediatric Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2019 Dec 7
Publication categoryResearch