Autonomic dysfunction has been implicated in the pathophysiology of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) is an enzyme of the cholinergic system, a major branch of the autonomic system, and may provide a measure of autonomic (dys)function. This study was undertaken to evaluate BChE activity in infants and young children who had died from Sudden Infant Death or Sudden Unexpected Death. The researchers measured BChE specific activity (BChEsa) and total protein in the eluate of dried blood spots taken at birth as part of the newborn screening program. BChEsa, measured in dried blood spots taken 2-3 days after birth, was lower in babies who subsequently died of SIDS compared to surviving controls and other Non-SIDS deaths. The researchers conclude that a previously unidentified cholinergic deficit, identifiable by abnormal BChEsa, is present at birth in SIDS babies and represents a measurable, specific vulnerability prior to their death. This finding represents the possibility for the identification of infants at risk for SIDS prior to death and opens new avenues for future research into specific interventions.
Butyrylcholinesterase is a potential biomarker for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
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