MR Spectroscopy Shows Long Propylene Glycol Half-Life in Neonatal Brain

Monique Van De Lagemaat, Laura A. Van De Pol, Inge A. Zonnenberg, Bregje C.M. Witjes, Petra J.W. Pouwels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: Neonatal propylene glycol (PG) clearance is low with long plasma half-life. We hypothesized that neonatal brain PG clearance is diminished and may be related to perinatal asphyxia, infection, or stroke, via different blood-brain barrier permeability. This study aimed to estimate cerebral PG half-life with a clearance model including PG measured with MR spectroscopy (MRS) in neonates that received phenobarbital as the only PG source and to evaluate whether PG clearance was related to intracerebral pathology, for example, perinatal asphyxia, infection, or stroke. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, 45 neonates receiving any dose of phenobarbital underwent MRS (short echo time single-voxel MRS at 1.5 T). Cumulative phenobarbital/PG doses were calculated. MRS indications were perinatal asphyxia (n = 22), infection (n = 4), stroke (n = 10), metabolic disease (n = 4), and others (n = 5). Results: Medians (interquartile range) included gestational age 39.4 (3.1) weeks, birth weight 3,146 (1,340) g, and cumulative PG dose 700 (1,120) mg/kg. First-order kinetics with mono-exponential decay showed cerebral PG half-life of 40.7 h and volume of distribution of 1.6 L/kg. Zero-order kinetics showed a rate constant of 0.048 mM/h and a volume of distribution of 2.3 L/kg, but the fit had larger residuals than the first-order model. There were no differences in ΔPG (i.e., PG estimated with clearance model minus PG observed with MRS) in infants with perinatal asphyxia, infection, or stroke. Discussion/Conclusion: This study showed a long cerebral PG half-life of 40.7 h in neonates, unrelated to perinatal asphyxia, infection, or stroke. These findings should increase awareness of possible toxic PG concentrations in neonatal brain due to intravenous PG-containing drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-701
Number of pages9
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021


  • Half-life
  • MR spectroscopy
  • Neonate
  • Propylene glycol

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