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Pathways to the impairment of human nutritional status by gastrointestinal pathogens

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2009

N. W. Solomons
Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism (CeSSIAM), Hospital de Ojos y Oidos, ‘Dr Rodolfo Robles V’, Diagonal 21 y 19 Calle, Zona 11, Guatemala City, Guatemala, Central America


Gastrointestinal pathogens are of three varieties, those that can, and often do, take the life of the host, those that infect transiently and rarely are life-threatening, and those (parasites) that establish a relatively prolonged residence or colonization of the host's alimentary tract. In the case of the second form, if infections are recurrent, both catabolic effects during the episode and failure to digest foods and/or absorb nutrients result. Similarly, catabolic wastage through activation of the acute phase response, and interference with the host's acquisition of nutrients by maldigestion, malabsorption, intestinal losses and competition with the parasite burden can impair growth and nutrition with helminthic infections. Growth and nutrition with respect to all of the macronutrients and virtually all of the micronutrients have been documented to be adversely affected by gastrointestinal pathogens. For its burgeoning importance as a worldwide health problem, both with the HIV virus as a direct intestinal pathogen and with the opportunistic gut infections occurring in the immunocompromised host, AIDS represents the emerging context of the impairment of nutritional status by intestinal pathogens.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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