Sen Gupta et al., Gut Pathogens 2011, 3:7doi:10.1186/1757-4749-3-7 (Access free full paper here)
Malnutrition, a major health problem, affects a significant proportion of preschool children in developing countries. The devastating consequences of malnutrition include diarrhoea, malabsorption, increased intestinal permeability and suboptimal immune response etc. Nutritional interventions and dietary solutions have not been effective for treatment of malnutrition till date. Metagenomic procedures allow one to access the complex cross-talk between the gut and its microbial flora and understand how a different community composition affects various states of human health. In this study, a metagenomic approach was employed for analysing the differences between gut microbial communities obtained from a malnourished and an apparently healthy child.
Our results indicate that the malnourished child gut has an abundance of enteric pathogens which are known to cause intestinal inflammation resulting in malabsorption of nutrients. We also identified a few functional sub-systems from these pathogens, which probably impact the overall metabolic capabilities of the malnourished child gut.
The present study comprehensively characterizes the microbial community resident in the gut of a malnourished child. This study has attempted to extend the understanding of the basis of malnutrition beyond nutrition deprivation.