Biomarkers of growth faltering and neurodevelopmental delay in children who are HIV-exposed but uninfected: A systematic review.

Document Type



Paediatrics and Child Health (East Africa)


Introduction: Children who are HIV-exposed but uninfected (CHEU) are at risk of linear growth faltering and neurodevelopmental delay. Circulating biomarkers associated with these adverse outcomes may elucidate pathways of injury.

Objective: To identify biomarkers associated with growth faltering and neurodevelopmental delay in CHEU.

Methods: We performed a systematic review of electronic databases MEDLINE (1946-April 2021), EMBASE (1974-April 2021), Scopus (2004-April 2021), and PubMed (1985-April 2021), following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. The systematic review was registered on the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO, registration number CRD42021238363).

Results: We found seven studies associating biomarker abnormalities and growth outcomes in CHEUs and two studies on biomarker abnormalities and neurodevelopmental delay. Biomarker abnormalities associated with growth restriction were: C-reactive protein (CRP), tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin (IL)-12p70, IFN-γ-induced protein-10 (CXCL10/IP-10), lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and IGF-binding protein-1 (IGFBP-1). Biomarkers associated with motor, language, and cognitive delay were CRP, IFN-γ, IL-1β, -2, -4, -6, -10, -12p70, neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9).

Conclusion: Elevated markers of inflammation (acute phase reactants, pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines) and intestinal microbial translocation are associated with growth faltering. Elevated markers of inflammation are associated with adverse neurodevelopment.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Current HIV Research