Understanding of the aetiology and pathophysiology of kwashiorkor
Kwashiorkor is a major public health problem in many parts of the world. The presence of oedema distinguishes the clinical picture of kwashiorkor from the picture of marasmus, a more frequent form of acute malnutrition characterized by a severe wasting. The specific aetiology of kwashiorkor remains elusive despite well-designed studies over the last decades. In collaboration with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Epicentre and Ghent University, we conducted a case-control study in Niger to provide a better and more coherent understanding of the mechanisms and pathogenic pathways leading to kwashiorkor. Blood, urine and faeces samples were subjected to metabolomics, metagenomics, and proteomics analysis in order to determine biochemical markers and microbial genetic factors that could potentially distinguish children with kwashiorkor from children with marasmus and children without malnutrition. This has the potential to open doors for developing effective prevention strategies, improving management and treatment, and reducing the mortality of kwashiorkor.
Funded by MSF Innovation Fund