Increased nitric oxide production in acute diarrhoea is associated with abnormal gut permeability, hypokalaemia and malnutrition in tropical Australian Aboriginal children

R Kukuruzovic, David Brewster, E Gray, Nicholas Anstey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Australian Aboriginal children hospitalized with diarrhoeal disease have severe manifestations with acidosis, hypokalaemia, osmotic diarrhoea and abnormal small bowel permeability. Nitric oxide (NO) production is increased in diarrhoeal disease, but its relationship to mucosal function and diarrhoeal complications is not known. We examined the relationship between NO production and complications of acute diarrhoea in Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children between February 1998 and February 2000. We enrolled 318 children admitted to Royal Darwin Hospital into one of three groups: acute diarrhoea, non-diarrhoeal controls with no inflammatory illness, and non-diarrhoeal controls with inflammatory illness. Nitric oxide production was measured by urine nitrate-creatinine (NOx/Cr) excretion on a low nitrate diet. Small bowel intestinal permeability was measured by the lactulose-rhamnose (L/R) ratio on a timed blood specimen. The NOx/Cr ratios were markedly elevated in Aboriginal diarrhoeal cases (geometric mean [GM] = 1.23, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.07-1.44), lowest in non-Aboriginal non-inflammatory controls (GM = 0.13, 95% CI 0.10-0.16) and intermediate in all other groups (GM = 0.35, 95% CI 0.28-0.43). Convalescent levels (day 5) in the Aboriginal diarrhoeal group (GM = 1.02, 95% CI 0.82-1.28) were slower to fall than L/R ratios. Multivariate analysis in the diarrhoeal group indicated that high NO production was associated with abnormal permeability, hypokalaemia and malnutrition, but not with the severity of diarrhoea, acidosis or osmotic diarrhoea. We concluded that increased NO production may contribute to impaired mucosal barrier function and hypokalaemia in acute gastroenteritis, which may be the cost of the known gut-protective and antimicrobial effects mediated by NO in acute intestinal inflammation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)115-120
    Number of pages6
    JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
    Volume97
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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