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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2004 Aug;39(2):153-7.

Intestinal inflammation measured by fecal neopterin in Gambian children with enteropathy: association with growth failure, Giardia lamblia, and intestinal permeability.

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School of Clinical and Medical Sciences, Sir James Spence Institute of Child Health, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom.



Investigate whether fecal neopterin concentration (a potential marker of gut inflammation) in Gambian children with enteropathy was associated with growth failure. Secondary outcome measures tested the associations between Giardia lamblia infestation, fecal neopterin and lactulose mannitol absorption ratio(L:M), a measure of intestinal permeability.


Seventy-two children had height and weight measured every 6 to 8 weeks until 15 months of age in a rural Gambian village. L:M ratio, a measure of small intestinal permeability and fecal neopterin were measured at these times. Stool was examined by immunofluorescence and light microscope for Giardia cysts.


Long-term height and weight gains were negatively associated with mean subject fecal neopterin concentration (r = -0.29 and -0.36, respectively; P < 0.001). There was no correlation between fecal neopterin and intestinal permeability or history of diarrhea. Of 72 children studied, 19 had Giardia cysts in stool and 38 had negative stool examinations. Infected children had a mean of 0.7 days of diarrhea/week (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.31-1.03) versus 0.8 days/week (95% CI, 0.71-0.85) in uninfected children. No difference in growth was detected between those with positive or negative fecal smears. Mean L:M ratio was the same in both groups (0.31; 95% CI, 0.26-0.34).


Consistent with the theory that intestinal inflammation in tropical infants may impair growth, fecal neopterin concentrations were inversely associated with growth. Factors other than Giardia are causing enteropathy and growth failure in Gambian infants.

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