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March 1964

Serum Enzyme Levels In Protein-Calorie Malnutrition: Studies in Children With Kwashiorkor and Marasmus

Author Affiliations

S. G. Srikantia, MBBS, Nutrition Research Laboratories, Indian Council of Medical Research, Tarnaka, Hyderabad-7 (Dn), India.; Nutrition Research Laboratories, Indian Council of Medical Research.

Am J Dis Child. 1964;107(3):256-259. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1964.02080060258006

Enzymatic changes occur in response to alterations in nutritional status. In animals maintained on protein-deficient diets many tissue enzyme levels are lowered. This subject has been extensively reviewed by Knox, Auerbach, and Lin.1 In children suffering from kwashiorkor—a syndrome of proteincalorie malnutrition—not only have the duodenal enzymes been shown to be low, but some of the blood enzyme concentrations are also reduced.2-5 These observations are generally in keeping with the finding that in kwashiorkor most tissues show evidence of structural damage, the liver and pancreas being particularly affected.

Studies on serum enzyme levels in marasmus, another form of protein-calorie malnutrition, are, however, lacking. The extreme degree of fatty infiltration of the liver which is an invariable and characteristic feature of kwashiorkor is rarely seen in marasmus. 6,7 Studies on certain serum enzyme levels in marasmus may be expected to indicate the functional status of the liver and pancreas