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Fecal calprotectin levels are higher in rural than in urban Chinese infants and negatively associated with growth

Jin-Rong Liu1, Xiao-Yang Sheng1, Yan-Qi Hu1, Xiao-Gang Yu1, Jamie E Westcott2, Leland V Miller2, Nancy F Krebs2 and K Michael Hambidge2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child and Adolescent Health Care, MOE-Shanghai Key Laboratory of Children’s Environmental Health, Xinhua Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, School of Medicine, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, Shanghai Institute for Pediatric Research, 1665 Kongjiang Road, Shanghai, 200092, China

2 University of Colorado School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Section of Nutrition, Box C225, Research Complex II, 12700 East 19th Avenue, Aurora, CO 80045, USA

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BMC Pediatrics 2012, 12:129  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-12-129

Published: 23 August 2012



Fecal calprotectin (FC) is an established simple biomarker of gut inflammation. To examine a possible relationship between linear growth and gut inflammation, we compared fecal calprotectin levels in 6 month old infants from poor rural vs affluent urban families.


The project was a cross-sectional comparison of FC from rural and urban populations in China. The relationship between length-for-age Z-score (LAZ) and FC concentrations were also compared. Single fecal samples were assayed for FC using EK-CAL ELISA kits.


The age of subjects for both locations was 6.1 ± 0.2 mo; all were apparently healthy. The mean ± SD of the LAZ for the rural and urban infants were −0.6 ± 0.9 and 0.4 ± 0.9, respectively. FC had a non-normal distribution. The median FC of 420.9 and 140.1 μg/g for rural and urban infants, respectively, were significantly different (P < 0.0001). For the rural group, linear regression analysis showed that an increase in FC of 100 μg/g was associated with a decrease of 0.06 in LAZ.


FC levels were significantly elevated in the rural infants and high concentrations accounted for approximately one-third of the low LAZ scores of these infants.

Fecal calprotectin; Infants; Children; Gut inflammation; Growth