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.
|Publication status||Published - Feb 2022|