Schistosoma mansoni Infection as a Predictor of Low Aerobic Capacity in Ugandan Children
Using the 20-meter shuttle run test (20mSRT) as a morbidity metric, we assessed whether Schistosoma mansoni infection was associated with decreased aerobic capacity in Ugandan children across a range of altitudes, either at low (∼600 m) or high (∼1,000 m) altitudes. A total of 305 children were recruited from six schools within the Buliisa District, Lake Albert, Uganda. A subset (n = 96) of these had been previously assessed and treated for schistosomiasis ± malaria 2 weeks prior. Fitness scores on the 20mSRT were translated into VO2max using a standardized equation. Unadjusted and multivariable-adjusted analyses were performed using VO2max as the primary outcome. Analysis of fitness scores from 304 children, inclusive of the subset follow-up cohort, revealed a median VO2max of 45.4 mL kg-1 min-1 (interquartile range: 42.9-48.0 mL kg-1 min-1). Children residing at high altitudes demonstrated increased aerobic capacities (46.3 versus 44.8 mL kg-1 min-1, P = 0.031). The prevalence of stunting, wasting, S. mansoni egg patent infection, malaria, giardiasis, anemia, and fecal occult blood were 36.7%, 16.1%, 44.3%, 65.2%, 21.4%, 50.6%, and 41.2%, respectively. Median VO2max was elevated in those previously treated, compared with those newly recruited (46.3 versus 44 mL kg-1 min-1, P < 0.001). Multivariable-adjusted analysis revealed a strong negative association between S. mansoni egg patent infection and VO2max at low altitude (beta coefficient: -3.96, 95% CI: -6.56 to -137, P = 0.004). This is the first study to document a negative association between S. mansoni infection and aerobic capacity at low altitudes using the 20mSRT.