Campbell, D.I., Elia, M. and Lunn, P.G.
Growth faltering in rural Gambian infants is associated with impaired small intestinal barrier function, leading to endotoxemia and systemic inflammation
Journal of Nutrition, 133, (5), .
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Growth faltering of rural Gambian infants is associated with a chronic inflammatory enteropathy of the mucosa of the small intestine that may impair both digestive/absorptive and barrier functions. The aim of this study was to determine whether the enteropathy was associated with a compromised barrier function that allowed translocation of antigenic macromolecules from the gut lumen into the body, with subsequent systemic immunostimulation, resulting in growth retardation. Rural Gambian infants were studied longitudinally at regular intervals between 8 and 64 wk of age. On each study day, each child was medically examined, anthropometric measurements were made, a blood sample was taken and an intestinal permeability test performed. Evidence of chronic immunostimulation was provided by abnormally elevated white blood cell, lymphocyte and platelet counts, and frequently raised plasma concentration of C-reactive protein. Intestinal permeability was abnormal and associated with impaired growth (r = -0.41, P < 0.001). Plasma concentrations of endotoxin and immunoglobulin (Ig)G-endotoxin core antibody were also elevated and related to both growth (r = -0.30, P < 0.02; r = -0.64, P < 0.0001, respectively) and measures of mucosal enteropathy. Plasma IgG, IgA and IgM levels increased rapidly with age toward adult concentrations. Raised values were related to poor growth but also to measures of mucosal enteropathy and the endotoxin antibody titer. The interrelationships among these variables and growth suggested that they were all part of the same growth-retarding mechanism. These data are consistent with the hypothesis of translocation of immunogenic lumenal macromolecules across a compromised gut mucosa, leading to stimulation of systemic immune/inflammatory processes and subsequent growth impairment
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