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Background: Rapid growth should occur among children with severe malnutrition (SM) when medically and nutritionally treated. Systemic inflammation (SI) is associated with death among children with SM and is negatively associated with linear growth. However, the relationship between SI and weight gain during therapeutic feeding following acute illness is unknown. We hypothesised that growth in the first 60 days post-hospital discharge is associated with SI among children with SM. Methods: We conducted secondary analysis of data from HIV-uninfected children with SM (n=98) who survived and were not readmitted to hospital during one year of follow up. We examined the relationship between changes in absolute deficits in weight and mid-upper-arm circumference (MUAC) from enrolment at stabilisation to 60 days later and untargeted plasma proteome, targeted cytokines/chemokines, leptin, and soluble CD14 (sCD14) using multivariate regularized linear regression. Results: The mean change in absolute deficit in weight and MUAC was -0.50kg (standard deviation; SD±0.69) and -1.20cm (SD±0.89), respectively, from enrolment to 60 days later. During the same period, mean weight and MUAC gain was 3.3g/kg/day (SD±2.4) and 0.22mm/day (SD±0.2), respectively. Enrolment inflammatory cytokines interleukin 17 alpha (IL17α), interleukin 2 (IL2), and serum amyloid P (SAP) were negatively associated with weight and MUAC gain. Lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP) and complement component 2 were negatively associated with weight gain only. Leptin was positively associated with weight gain. sCD14, beta-2 microglobulin (β2M), and macrophage inflammatory protein 1 beta (MIP1β) were negatively associated with MUAC gain only. Conclusions: Early post-hospital discharge weight and MUAC gain were rapid and comparable to children with uncomplicated SM treated with similar diet in the community. Higher concentrations of SI markers were associated with less weight and MUAC gain, suggesting inflammation negatively impacts recovery from wasting. This finding warrants further research on the role of inflammation on growth among children with SM.



Wellcome Open Research



Publication Date



severe malnutrition, child growth, weight, mid-upper arm circumference, anthropometric deficit, inflammation, cytokines, proteome