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Background: Recent nutritional interventions have targeted colonic functions in patients with infectious diarrhea during rehydration and during recovery from malnutrition, with the assumption that the effects will be influenced by metabolism of complex carbohydrates by colonic bacteria. However, the diversity of colonic bacteria in patients with cholera is not known.

Aim: To study the diversity of colonic bacteria in malnourished children with cholera before and during treatment with oral rehydration salt solutions containing 1 of these 3 substrates: glucose, rice, or amylase-resistant starch.

Patients and Methods: Serial fecal samples were collected from 30 malnourished children with cholera until completion of rehydration and partial nutritional recovery; 11 malnourished children without diarrhea; and 6 better nourished children. Polymerase chain reaction, using universal primers for 16S rDNA, was performed on chromosomal DNA extracted from the stool samples, and the products were separated by temporal temperature gradient gel electrophoresis.

Results: The Vibrio cholerae band was detected in all children at enrollment and disappeared within 2 days. On day 2, a rapid and significant increase in the band numbers was observed, which was followed by a steady increase until day 28. After full recovery from cholera and partial recovery from malnutrition, the number of bands (11.5 /- 2.8) was lower than in healthy children (22.2 /- 1.3). On day 3, the number of bands was greater with rice or amylase-resistant starch than with glucose (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Bacterial diversity was markedly but transiently altered in severely malnourished children with cholera receiving therapy.

(C) 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.