Thymus gland size during recovery from complicated severe acute malnutrition: A prospective study of the role of probiotics

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Nicolette Nabukeera Barungi, Benedikte Grenov, Henrik Friis, Betty Lanyero, Hanifa Namusoke, Ezekiel Mupere, Kim F. Michaelsen, Christian Mølgaard, Vibeke Bak Christensen, Maren Johanne Heilskov Rytter

Background: Children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) are prone to infections due to immune dysfunction including severe thymus atrophy which recovers during nutritional rehabilitation.

Aim: To investigate predictors of thymus size recovery, including probiotics during nutritional rehabilitation of children admitted with complicated SAM.

Methods: In this prospective study nested in a randomized controlled trial, children 6-59 months admitted with SAM received standard care and either probiotics or placebo during hospitalization until 8 weeks post-discharge. Thymus size was measured using ultrasound at admission, discharge, 8 weeks post-discharge and among 27 community controls. Predictors of thymus size recovery were assessed using linear regression.

Results: Among 388 children with SAM, mean (SD) thymus size was 1.06 cm2 (0.41), 1.24 cm2 (0.48), 2.85 cm2 (1.07) and 4.2 cm2 (0.93) at admission, discharge, follow-up and in the healthy controls respectively (p < 0.05).Probiotics did not affect thymus recovery. During both inpatient therapeutic care (ITC) and outpatient therapeutic care (OTC), thymus recovery correlated positively with anthropometry but negatively with caregiver-perceived illness severity and Haemoglobin <8 g/dl. Negative predictors of thymus recovery during ITC included grade 3 oedema (β -0.13, 95%CI -0.25; -0.01), dermatosis (β -0.21, 95%CI -0.41; -0.01), C-reactive protein (CRP) >15mg/L (β -0.13, 95%CI -0.25; -0.02) and neutrophils (β -0.01, 95%CI -0.02; -0.002). During OTC, HIV negatively predicted thymus recovery.

Conclusion: Children with SAM failed to regain thymus size at 8 weeks post-discharge. Probiotics did not predict thymus recovery during nutritional rehabilitation. More research is needed to find interventions which can accelerate immune recovery.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftPaediatrics and international child health
Vol/bind39
Udgave nummer2
Sider (fra-til)95-103
Antal sider9
ISSN2046-9047
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2019

Bibliografisk note

CURIS 2019 NEXS 192

ID: 204465619