Biomarkers of environmental enteropathy, inflammation, stunting, and impaired growth in children in northeast Brazil

Richard L. Guerrant, Alvaro M. Leite, Relana Pinkerton, Pedro H.Q.S. Medeiros, Paloma A. Cavalcante, Mark DeBoer, Margaret Kosek, Christopher Duggan, Andrew Gewirtz, Jonathan C. Kagan, Anna E. Gauthier, Jonathan Swann, Jordi Mayneris-Perxachs, David T. Bolick, Elizabeth A. Maier, Marjorie M. Guedes, Sean R. Moore, William A. Petri, Alexandre Havt, Ila F. LimaMara Moura Gondim De Prata, Josyf C. Michaleckyj, Rebecca J. Scharf, Craig Sturgeon, Alessio Fasano, Aldo A.M. Lima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus citations


Critical to the design and assessment of interventions for enteropathy and its developmental consequences in children living in impoverished conditions are non-invasive biomarkers that can detect intestinal damage and predict its effects on growth and development. We therefore assessed fecal, urinary and systemic biomarkers of enteropathy and growth predictors in 375 6-26 month-old children with varying degrees of malnutrition (stunting or wasting) in Northeast Brazil. 301 of these children returned for followup anthropometry after 2-6m. Biomarkers that correlated with stunting included plasma IgA anti-LPS and anti-FliC, zonulin (if >12m old), and intestinal FABP (I-FABP, suggesting prior barrier disruption); and with citrulline, tryptophan and with lower serum amyloid A (SAA) (suggesting impaired defenses). In contrast, subsequent growth was predicted in those with higher fecal MPO or A1AT and also by higher L/M, plasma LPS, I-FABP and SAA (showing intestinal barrier disruption and inflammation). Better growth was predicted in girls with higher plasma citrulline and in boys with higher plasma tryptophan. Interactions were also seen with fecal MPO and neopterin in predicting subsequent growth impairment. Biomarkers clustered into markers of 1) functional intes tinal barrier disruption and translocation, 2) structural intestinal barrier disruption and inflammation and 3) systemic inflammation. Principle components pathway analyses also showed that L/M with %L, I-FABP and MPO associate with impaired growth, while also (like MPO) associating with a systemic inflammation cluster of kynurenine, LBP, sCD14, SAA and K/T. Systemic evidence of LPS translocation associated with stunting, while markers of barrier disruption or repair (A1AT and Reg1 with low zonulin) associated with fecal MPO and neopterin. We conclude that key noninvasive biomarkers of intestinal barrier disruption, LPS translocation and of intestinal and systemic inflammation can help elucidate how we recognize, understand, and assess effective interventions for enteropathy and its growth and developmental consequences in children in impoverished settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0158772
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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