Early closure mechanisms of the ductus arteriosus in immature infants.


Aim: According to experimental studies, cardiopulmonary distress decreases after closure of patent ductus arteriosus. However, early closure of the ductus using ibuprofen or indomethacin has failed to increase survival without serious morbidity. We review relevant data aiming to define optimal early management strategies that promote early closure of ductus arteriosus without serious adverse effects.

Methods: Literature in English was searched selectively focusing on the potential of using acetaminophen for early closure of the ductus.

Results: Prophylactic ibuprofen or indomethacin intended to close the ductus, predisposes infants to ischaemia, bleeding and immune dysfunction. Acetaminophen appears to have a similar efficacy as indomethacin or ibuprofen, and all three dose-dependently constrict the ductus. Ibuprofen and indomethacin cause non-specific inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis, while acetaminophen predominantly inhibits prostaglandin E synthesis. Owing to low CYP450 activity in infancy, acetaminophen toxicity has been rarely evident. However, increasing the dosage increases the oxidative stress. We review prophylactic treatments that may increase the safety and efficacy of acetaminophen. These include vitamin A, cysteine and glutamine, and low-dose corticosteroid supplementation.

Conclusion: The current challenge is to define a safe perinatal management practice that promotes cardiorespiratory adaptation in immature infants, particularly the seamless closure of the ductus before significant cardiopulmonary distress develops.