Effects of nutritional rehabilitation on intestinal function and on CD4 cell number in children with HIV

Alfredo Guarino, Maria Immacolata Spagnuolo, Vania Giacomet, Roberto Berni Canani, Eugenia Bruzzese, Carlo Giaquinto, Paola Roggero, Anna Plebani, Guido Castelli Gattinara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A complex interplay of malnutrition, intestinal dysfunction, and immune impairment increases the progression of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease in children. The authors tested the hypothesis that nutritional support improves intestinal and immune functions in children infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Methods: A questionnaire was circulated through reference centers for pediatric HIV infection to evaluate the effects of nutritional rehabilitation, total parenteral nutrition (TPN) and enteral nutrition (EN), in children. Information included changes in body weight, CD4 cell numbers, and intestinal absorption - as judged by the xylose load - before and after clinical nutritional support and the outcome of children. Results: Sixty-two children underwent nutritional support: 46 received TPN and 16 received EN. All but three had full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and all were severely malnourished. Baseline clinical conditions were worse in children receiving TPN than in those receiving EN. Intestinal dysfunction was detected in all children who received xylose oral load. A significant increase in CD4 cell count, xylose levels, and body weight followed EN. A similar pattern was observed after TPN, but none of the parameters significantly changed. Twenty-seven children who received TPN and three who received EN eventually died. Fourteen who received TPN and eight who received EN were shifted to oral feeding, and five who received TPN and five who received EN continued with clinical nutritional support at the end of the observation period. Conclusions: Nutritional intervention may restore intestinal absorption and increase CD4 cell numbers. The efficacy of nutritional intervention is enhanced if provided before a terminal stage of HIV infection. These data provide evidence of a close association among nutritional condition, intestinal absorption, and immune impairment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-371
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • AIDS
  • Enteral nutrition
  • Immune impairment
  • Intestinal malabsorption
  • Malnutrition
  • Parenteral nutrition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Histology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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