Background: Because altered immune responses may be a risk factor for persistent diarrhea, various aspects of the immune response were examined to elucidate the underlying immune mechanisms that may be involved in the development of persistent diarrhea.
Methods: Children (7–12 months of age) with watery diarrhea for 6 to 8 days from the Dhaka Hospital of the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B), were enrolled. Children were classified as having acute diarrhea (AD) or persistent diarrhea (PD) if diarrhea resolved within 14 days or persisted for more than 14 days, respectively. Uninfected control children (n = 13), from the Nutrition Follow-Up Unit of ICDDR,B were also enrolled. Of the 123 children with diarrhea who were enrolled, 85 had AD and 38 had PD. Comparisons were performed for clinical features, nutritional status (weight for age, plasma transferrin, and serum albumin levels), and immune responses: neutrophil function; peripheral blood mononuclear cell function, delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, plasma levels of immunoglobulins, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ. Univariate analyses were conducted to assess differences among the three groups of children and between children with AD and PD. Logistic regression was performed to determine risk factors for PD.
Results: There were no differences in clinical features and nutritional status among the groups of children studied. More children in whom PD developed had a negative DTH response to tuberculin than those with AD (P = 0.021). Also, a negative DTH response to tuberculin was a significant risk factor for PD (odds ratio [OR] = 3.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.5–9.9).
Conclusions: Children with acute diarrhea with a negative DTH response to tuberculin are more likely to have development of persistent diarrhea.