Objectives: Preterm infants often experience suboptimal growth, which can affect organ development. The aim of this study was to improve growth by treatment with bile salt–stimulated lipase (BSSL), naturally present in breast milk, but lost after pasteurization, and absent in formula.
Methods: Two clinical trials were performed with a predefined analysis of combined data to investigate the effects of recombinant human BSSL (rhBSSL) treatment on growth velocity and fat absorption in preterm infants. The studies were randomized and double-blinded comparing 7-day treatment with rhBSSL and placebo, administered in pasteurized breast milk or formula, using a crossover design.
Results: Sixty-three infants were evaluated for safety. At randomization, the mean (standard deviation) weight was 1467 (193) g and mean postmenstrual age was 32.6 (0.5) weeks. Sixty and 46 infants were evaluated for growth velocity and fat absorption, respectively. rhBSSL treatment significantly improved mean growth velocity by 2.93 g · kg−1 · day−1 (P < 0.001) compared with placebo (mean 16.86 vs 13.93 g · kg−1 · day−1) and significantly decreased the risk of suboptimal growth (<15 g · kg−1 · day−1) (30% vs 52%, P = 0.004). rhBSSL significantly increased absorption of the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid, and arachidonic acid by 5.76% (P = 0.013) and 8.55% (P = 0.001), respectively, but had no significant effect on total fat absorption. The adverse-event profile was similar to placebo.
Conclusions: In preterm infants fed pasteurized breast milk or formula, 1 week of treatment with rhBSSL was well tolerated and significantly improved growth and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid absorption compared to placebo. This publication presents the first data regarding the use of rhBSSL in preterms and the results have led to further clinical studies.