Environmental enteropathy (EE), a subclinical intestinal disorder characterized by mucosal inflammation, reduced barrier integrity, and malabsorption, appears to be associated with increased risk of stunting in children in low- and middle-income countries. Fecal biomarkers indicative of EE (neopterin [NEO], myeloperoxidase [MPO], and alpha-1-antitrypsin [AAT]) have been negatively associated with 6-month linear growth. Associations between fecal markers (NEO, MPO, and AAT) and short-term linear growth were examined in a birth cohort of 246 children in Bangladesh. Marker concentrations were categorized in stool samples based on their distribution (< first quartile, interquartile range, > third quartile), and a 10-point composite EE score was calculated. Piecewise linear mixed-effects models were used to examine the association between markers measured quarterly (in months 3-21, 3-9, and 12-21) and 3-month change in length-for-age z-score (ΔLAZ). Children with high MPO levels at quarterly time points lost significantly more LAZ per 3-month period during the second year of life than those with low MPO (ΔLAZ = -0.100; 95% confidence interval = -0.167 to -0.032). AAT and NEO were not associated with growth; however, composite EE score was negatively associated with subsequent 3-month growth. In this cohort of children from an urban setting in Bangladesh, elevated MPO levels, but not NEO or AAT levels, were associated with decreases in short-term linear growth during the second year of life, supporting previous data suggesting the relevance of MPO as a marker of EE.
© The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.