Searching for a Predictive Biomarker of Pulmonary Hypertension in Babies With Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia

Searching for a Predictive Biomarker of Pulmonary Hypertension in Babies With Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia 1024 575 Abbie Roth

Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs and is a comorbidity of bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD), which is the chronic lung disease of premature babies. When pulmonary hypertension is present in the context of BPD, the risk of death is significantly increased.

As neonatologists continue to define the phenotype of severe BPD, Jennifer Trittmann, MD, MPH, and her colleagues in the Center for Perinatal Research at Nationwide Children’s are working to identify biomarkers for pulmonary hypertension in these high-risk patients.

“My goal is to create a lab panel of biomarkers, both genetic and metabolic, that could support clinicians as they consider personalized approaches to treatment plans for patients with BPD complicated by pulmonary hypertension,” she says.

In a recent publication in Pediatric Research, she and her team identified three novel genetic markers (DUSP1 SNP rs322351, DUSP5 SNP rs1042606, DUSP5 SNP rs3793892) that were statistically different in BPD patients with
pulmonary hypertension compared to BPD patients without pulmonary hypertension. The team also analyzed clinical data of the cohort.

“Analysis of the clinical data revealed that BPD patients with pulmonary hypertension were of younger gestational age, lower birthweight, received less surfactant treatment, more mechanical ventilation, and more postnatal steroids than patients with BPD and no evidence of pulmonary hypertension,” says Dr. Trittmann, who is also assistant professor of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University.

Ultimately, the team calculated the area under the curve (AUC), which is a standard statistical test of biomarker sensitivity and specificity. AUC was 0.76 when including both clinical and DUSP genetic data.

“Moving forward, we’ll continue to identify and test biomarkers for pulmonary hypertension in babies with BPD until we reach a clinically useful AUC (0.8-1) that can be replicated in a larger independent patient cohort,” Dr. Trittmann says. “The goal is to have a lab test for pulmonary hypertension in BPD patients, such that depending on the patient’s lab profile, treatments that are specific for known molecular targets, for example in the DUSP pathway, could be used to quickly reverse disease progression.”



Chen LL, Zmuda EJ, Talavera MM, Frick J, Brock GN, Liu Y, Klebanoff MA, Trittmann JK. Dual-specificity phosphatase (DUSP) genetic variants predict pulmonary hypertension in patients with bronchopulmonary dysplasiaPediatric Research. 2020 January; 87(1):81-87.

Image credit: Nationwide Children’s

About the author

Abbie Roth, MWC, is a passionate communicator of science. As the managing editor for science communication at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, she shares stories about innovative research and discovery with audiences ranging from parents to preeminent researchers and leaders. Before coming to Nationwide Children’s, Abbie used her communication skills to engage audiences with a wide variety of science topics. As a subject-matter expert, she developed content for science education materials for McGraw-Hill Education, bringing science concepts to life for middle and high school aged students. She also provided technical editing for manuscripts spanning the American Chemical Society journal portfolio, in addition to serving as production lead for ACS Synthetic Biology. Abbie earned her BS in Life Sciences at Otterbein University while working at the Tan & Cardinal newspaper and minoring in Public Relations. She is a Medical Writer Certified®, credentialed by the American Medical Writers Association.