Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35533199
Link to DOI – e000984910.1371/journal.pntd.0009849
PLoS Negl Trop Dis 2022 May; 16(5): e0009849
Environmental Enteric Dysfunction (EED) refers to an incompletely defined syndrome of inflammation, reduced absorptive capacity, and reduced barrier function in the small intestine. It is widespread among children and adults in low- and middle-income countries and is also associated with poor sanitation and certain gut infections possibly resulting in an abnormal gut microbiota, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) and stunting. We investigated bacterial pathogen exposure in stunted and non-stunted children in Antananarivo, Madagascar by collecting fecal samples from 464 children (96 severely stunted, 104 moderately stunted and 264 non-stunted) and the prevalence of SIBO in 109 duodenal aspirates from stunted children (61 from severely stunted and 48 from moderately stunted children). SIBO assessed by both aerobic and anaerobic plating techniques was very high: 85.3% when selecting a threshold of ≥105 CFU/ml of bacteria in the upper intestinal aspirates. Moreover, 58.7% of the children showed more than 106 bacteria/ml in these aspirates. The most prevalent cultivated genera recovered were Streptococcus, Neisseria, Staphylococcus, Rothia, Haemophilus, Pantoea and Branhamella. Feces screening by qPCR showed a high prevalence of bacterial enteropathogens, especially those categorized as being enteroinvasive or causing mucosal disruption, such as Shigella spp., enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, enteropathogenic E. coli and enteroaggregative E. coli. These pathogens were detected at a similar rate in stunted children and controls, all showing no sign of severe diarrhea the day of inclusion but both living in a highly contaminated environment (slum-dwelling). Interestingly Shigella spp. was the most prevalent enteropathogen found in this study (83.3%) without overrepresentation in stunted children.