Case fatality among African children with severe acute malnutrition remains high. We report a 3-arm pilot trial in 58 Ugandan children, comparing feeds targeting disordered gastrointestinal function containing cowpea (CpF, n = 20) or inulin (InF, n = 20) with conventional feeds (ConF, n = 18). Baseline measurements of gut permeability (lactulose:mannitol ratio 1.19 ± SD 2.00), inflammation (fecal calprotectin 539.0 μg/g, interquartile range [IQR] 904.8), and satiety (plasma polypeptide YY 62.6 pmol/l, IQR 110.3) confirm gastrointestinal dysfunction. By day 28, no differences are observable in proportion achieving weight gain >5 g/kg/day (87%, 92%, 86%; p > 0.05), mortality (16%, 30%, 17%; p > 0.05), or edema resolution (83%, 54%, 91%; p > 0.05) among CpF, InF, and ConF. Decreased fecal bacterial richness from day 1 (abundance-based coverage estimator [ACE] 53.2) to day 7 (ACE 40.8) is observed only in ConF (p = 0.025). Bifidobacterium relative abundance increases from day 7 (5.8% ± 8.6%) to day 28 (10.9% ± 8.7%) in CpF (corrected p = 1.000). Legume-enriched feeds support aspects of gut function and the microbiome. Trial registration PACTR201805003381361.
Calder N, Walsh K, Olupot-Olupot P, Ssenyondo T, Muhindo R, Mpoya A, Brignardello J, Wang X, McKay E, Morrison D, Holmes E, Frost G, Maitland K.