Background: Environmental enteropathy is subclinical inflammation of the upper gastrointestinal tract associated with reduced linear growth in developing countries. Usually investigators have used biopsy or a dual sugar absorption test to assess environmental enteropathy. Such tests are time and resource intensive, restricting their utility as screening methods. Serum endotoxin core antibody (EndoCab) concentration is a potential indicator of intestinal inflammation and integrity, and thus may be useful to predict environmental enteropathy. We analyzed the association of serum EndoCab levels versus linear growth and lactulose-mannitol assay results in 2-5 year old rural Malawian children. Methods: This was an observational study of 388 rural, asymptomatic Malawian children who had anthropometric measurements taken at least every 3 months since birth. In June and July 2011, dual sugar permeability tests were performed and serum samples were drawn for EndoCab assays. Pearson correlation, Student's t test and multivariable linear regression were used to compare ln EndoCab concentrations with height-for-age z scores (HAZ) at time of sampling and 3 months later. Identical analysis was also performed for ln EndoCab versus measurements from dual sugar permeability testing performed in conjunction with serum sampling. In a subgroup of children with anthropometric data in the months prior to serum sampling, Pearson correlation was used to estimate the relationship between ln EndoCab and recent linear growth. Results: Ln EndoCab concentrations were not correlated with HAZ at time of measurement (B = -0.078, P = 0.14) nor change in HAZ over the subsequent 3 months HAZ (B = -0.018, P = 0.27). EndoCab concentration was not associated with %lactulose excretion (B < 0.001, P = 0.98) nor the lactulose:mannitol ratio (B = 0.021, P = 0.62). Subgroup analysis also did not reveal any significant association between EndoCab and recent growth. Conclusion: EndoCab titers were not correlated with measurements of growth or intestinal permeability in rural pre-school aged Malawian children.
- Endotoxin core antibody
- Environmental enteropathy