Skip to main content
All Posts By

IT Support

Systemic inflammation and metabolic disturbances underlie inpatient mortality among ill children with severe malnutrition.


Children admitted to hospital with an acute illness and concurrent severe malnutrition [complicated severe malnutrition (CSM)] have a high risk of dying. The biological processes underlying their mortality are poorly understood. In this case-control study nested within a multicenter randomized controlled trial among children with CSM in Kenya and Malawi, we found that blood metabolomic and proteomic profiles robustly differentiated children who died (n = 92) from those who survived (n = 92). Fatalities were characterized by increased energetic substrates (tricarboxylic acid cycle metabolites), microbial metabolites (e.g., propionate and isobutyrate), acute phase proteins (e.g., calprotectin and C-reactive protein), and inflammatory markers (e.g., interleukin-8 and tumor necrosis factor–α). These perturbations indicated disruptions in mitochondria-related bioenergetic pathways and sepsis-like responses. This study identified specific biomolecular disturbances associated with CSM mortality, revealing that systemic inflammation and bioenergetic deficits are targetable pathophysiological processes for improving survival of this vulnerable population.

Read Full Report here

The role of albumin and the extracellular matrix on the pathophysiology of oedema formation in severe malnutrition.


While fluid flows in a steady state from plasma, through interstitium, and into the lymph compartment, altered fluid distribution and oedema can result from abnormal Starling’s forces, increased endothelial permeability or impaired lymphatic drainage. The mechanism of oedema formation, especially the primary role of hypoalbuminaemia, remains controversial. Here, we explored the roles of albumin and albumin-independent mechanisms in oedema formation among children with severe malnutrition (SM).


We performed secondary analysis of data obtained from two independent clinical trials in Malawi and Kenya (NCT02246296 and NCT00934492). We then used an unconventional strategy of comparing children with kwashiorkor and marasmus by matching (discovery cohort, n = 144) and normalising (validation cohort, n = 98, 2 time points) for serum albumin. Untargeted proteomics was used in the discovery cohort to determine plausible albumin-independent mechanisms associated with oedema, which was validated using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and multiplex assays in the validation cohort.


We demonstrated that low serum albumin is necessary but not sufficient to develop oedema in SM. We further found that markers of extracellular matrix (ECM) degradation rather than markers of EG degradation distinguished oedematous and non-oedematous children with SM.


Our results show that oedema formation has both albumin-dependent and independent mechanisms. ECM integrity appears to have a greater role in oedema formation than EG shedding in SM.


Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), Thrasher Foundation (15122 and 9403), VLIR-UOS-Ghent University Global Minds Fund, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (OPP1131320), MRC/DfID/Wellcome Trust Global Health Trials Scheme (MR/M007367/1), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (156307), Wellcome Trust (WT083579MA).

Read Full Report here

The Childhood Acute Illness and Nutrition (CHAIN) network nested case-cohort study protocol: a multi-omics approach to understanding mortality among children in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.


Introduction: Many acutely ill children in low- and middle-income settings have a high risk of mortality both during and after hospitalisation despite guideline-based care. Understanding the biological mechanisms underpinning mortality may suggest optimal pathways to target for interventions to further reduce mortality. The Childhood Acute Illness and Nutrition (CHAIN) Network ( Nested Case-Cohort Study (CNCC) aims to investigate biological mechanisms leading to inpatient and post-discharge mortality through an integrated multi-omic approach.
Methods and analysis; The CNCC comprises a subset of participants from the CHAIN cohort (1278/3101 hospitalised participants, including 350 children who died and 658 survivors, and 270/1140 well community children of similar age and household location) from nine sites in six countries across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Systemic proteome, metabolome, lipidome, lipopolysaccharides, haemoglobin variants, toxins, pathogens, intestinal microbiome and biomarkers of enteropathy will be determined. Computational systems biology analysis will include machine learning and multivariate predictive modelling with stacked generalization approaches accounting for the different characteristics of each biological modality. This systems approach is anticipated to yield mechanistic insights, show interactions and behaviours of the components of biological entities, and help develop interventions to reduce mortality among acutely ill children.
Ethics and dissemination. The CHAIN Network cohort and CNCC was approved by institutional review boards of all partner sites. Results will be published in open access, peer reviewed scientific journals and presented to academic and policy stakeholders. Data will be made publicly available, including uploading to recognised omics databases.
Trial registration NCT03208725.

Read Full Report here