Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a severe gastrointestinal complication of prematurity. Using suspension and imaging mass cytometry coupled with single-cell RNA sequencing, we demonstrate severe inflammation in patients with NEC. NEC mucosa could be subtyped by an influx of three distinct neutrophil phenotypes (immature, newly emigrated, and aged). Furthermore, CD16+CD163+ monocytes/Mϕ, correlated with newly emigrated neutrophils, were specifically enriched in NEC mucosa, found adjacent to the blood vessels, and increased in circulation of infants with surgical NEC, suggesting trafficking from the periphery to areas of inflammation. NEC-specific monocytes/Mϕ transcribed inflammatory genes, including TREM1, IL1A, IL1B, and calprotectin, and neutrophil recruitment genes IL8, CXCL1, CXCL2, CXCL5 and had enrichment of gene sets in pathways involved in chemotaxis, migration, phagocytosis, and reactive oxygen species generation. In summary, we identify a novel subtype of inflammatory monocytes/Mϕ associated with NEC that should be further evaluated as a potential biomarker of surgical NEC and a target for the development of NEC-specific therapeutics.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.