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Enzyme. 1988;39(1):44-9.

Pepsins in protein-energy malnutrition.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Benin, Nigeria.


This study reports on basal gastric pepsins in 40 normal, kwashiorkor and marasmic children admitted to the paediatric wards of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Nigeria. The activity of total pepsin was significantly depressed in the diseased states. The various fractions of pepsin separated on ion-exchange chromatography also showed dramatic reductions for both kwashiorkor and marasmus. This adaptive reduction of pepsin and its fractions was more drastic in marasmus than kwashiorkor. On disc-gel electrophoresis, four of the pepsin bands found in normal gastric aspirate were missing in children with the syndromes. Gastric electrolytes and acidity recorded for the diseased states were not conducive for maximal peptic activity. It is suggested that due to the reduced proteolytic capability of the malnourished infants, rehabilitation with intact protein should be cautious and gradual.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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