Growth and development shortfalls that are disproportionately prevalent in children living in poor environmental conditions are postulated to result, at least in part, from abnormal gut function. Using data from The Etiology, Risk Factors, and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health and Development (MAL-ED) longitudinal cohort study, we examine biomarkers of gut inflammation and permeability in relation to environmental exposures and feeding practices. Trends in the concentrations of three biomarkers, myeloperoxidase (MPO), neopterin (NEO), and á-1-antitrypsin (AAT), are described from fecal samples collected during the first 2 years of each child's life. A total of 22,846 stool samples were processed during the longitudinal sampling of 2,076 children 0-24 months of age. Linear mixed models were constructed to examine the relationship between biomarker concentrations and recent food intake, symptoms of illness, concurrent enteropathogen infection, and socioeconomic status. Average concentrations of MPO, NEO, and AAT were considerably higher than published references for healthy adults. The concentration of each biomarker tended to decrease over the first 2 years of life and was highly variable between samples from each individual child. Both MPO and AAT were significantly elevated by recent breast milk intake. All three biomarkers were associated with pathogen presence, although the strength and direction varied by pathogen. The interpretation of biomarker concentrations is subject to the context of their collection. Herein, we identify that common factors (age, breast milk, and enteric infection) influence the concentration of these biomarkers. Within the context of low-and middle-income communities, we observe concentrations that indicate gut abnormalities, but more appropriate reference standards are needed.
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© 2017 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.