Background: Calprotectin is a fecal marker of intraintestinal inflammation derived from activated enteric neutrophils and macrophages. It is useful as a clinical marker in inflammatory bowel diseases; furthermore, it may have a role in public health epidemiology.
Objectives: The aim of the study was to describe the distribution of fecal calprotectin in Guatemalan preschool children sharing a common institutional diet; to relate it collectively to pediatric distributions in other geographic settings, and individually to concomitant indicators of intestinal infection or colonization and other descriptive features of the child.
Methods: Fecal samples were collected in 87 subjects, ages 2 to 7 years across 3 daycare centers sharing a common institutional menu, but from different ecological settings. Stools were examined, variously by routine light microscopy, quantitative egg counts, and a Giardia antigen test, for microbiological diagnosis, and an ELISA assay for fecal calprotectin (CalproLab).
Results: The median fecal calprotectin value was 58 mg/kg, with a mean of 98 ± 136 mg/kg and a range from 10 to 950 mg/kg; 61% of values were above the manufacturer's cut-off for elevated concentration and 51% exceeded an age-adjusted criterion. There were no associations between sex, age, growth indicators, or fecal microbiological findings by microscopy or ELISA assays, alone or in combination. The central tendency (mean or median) and distribution were generally shifted to the right in relation to comparable reports from children across the world literature.
Conclusions: Although specific, low-grade intestinal infections do not define calprotectin subgroups, right-shifted fecal calprotectin status in this population may reflect a general and diffuse stress of adverse environmental sanitation.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02203890.