Gastrointestinal disequilibrium in indigenous children residing in remote communities: correlation between prevalence of gut pathogens and a chronic inflammatory state

Research Opportunity
Medicine and Radiology
Royal Melbourne Hospital
Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr. Siddhartha Mahanty
Dr. Beverly-Ann Biggs 8344 3257 Personal web page

Project Details

Indigenous children in remote communities suffer from significantly worse health than non-indigenous children. Enteric pathogens such as S. stercoralis, soil transmitted helminths (STH) and diarrhoea-producing intestinal bacteria contribute to chronic undernutrition during early childhood potentially because of chronic inflammation driven by translocation of microbial products into the circulation. The consequences of intestinal infection with enteric pathogens and a chronic inflammatory state on the growth of Indigenous children has not been previously investigated.
To investigate this relationship, we will take advantage of an ongoing study that involves a cross-sectional survey of nutritional and health metrics in all children aged two years and under (~100) living on Elcho Island, NT, where health workers have reported a high prevalence of enteric infections in the past. From blood and stool samples collected in this study we will estimate the prevalence of enteric pathogens and level of inflammatory markers in this population of young Indigenous children. Prevalence of gastrointestinal pathogens identified by our tests will be correlated with the levels of inflammatory markers, represented by C-reactive protein (CRP), and alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP).


Children infected with pathogenic gut bacteria and parasites suffer from chronic malnutrition due to chronic activation of inflammatory pathways resulting, in part, from translocation of pathogen production into the systemic circulation. Study design: We will use and compare standardized, previously validated, and new, more sensitive assays to detect the presence of a number of bacterial and parasitic pathogens in stools collected from study participants. Presence of pathogens will be correlated with levels of circulating C-reactive protein (CRP), and alpha-1-acid glycoprotein (AGP), as indicators of inflammation.

Methodology used

Diagnostic ELISA, immunofluorescence, and biochemical assays for acute phase reactants, statistical methods for quantitative analysis of data

Envisaged role of trainee

Processing and analysis of specimen collected in the field; performance of ELISA and biochemical assays (for inflammatory biomarkers); generation of prevalence data in the study population; data analysis, presentation and manuscript preparation.


A better understanding of the prevalence of gastrointestinal pathogens, and chronic inflammation in an indigenous paediatric population and their relationship to child health.

Faculty Research Themes

Infection and Immunology

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Research Opportunities

Graduate Research Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other Graduate Research requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

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Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.


Medicine and Radiology

Research Node

Royal Melbourne Hospital

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