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The suggested disease in the case study is protein malnutrition. It is a condition where the patient does not have adequate protein intake. Genetic disorders can cause protein malnutrition. For instance, cystic fibrosis can lead to pancreatic insufficiency, limiting the production of digestive enzymes necessary for protein digestion (Montoro-Huguet et al., 2021). Celiac disease can lead to malabsorption of many nutrients. Hartnup can hinder the absorption of Tryptophan, which is necessary for protein synthesis (Schmidt-Kastner & Kravetz, 2022). However, these genetic factors may not be adequate to cause protein malnutrition. Other health conditions and poor dietary intake may also play an important role.

          The patient presents with generalized edema of extremities and abdomen due to low levels of albumin (a plasma protein), which causes the leakage of fluids from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues due to low osmotic pressure. The physiologic response to the stimulus is an attempt for the body to maintain homeostasis amid the lack of adequate protein. The body breaks down muscle tissues to release amino acids necessary for several cellular processes. The process causes muscle wasting and exacerbates protein deficiency.

          Liver cells (hepatocytes) are involved in protein malnutrition. Hepatocytes synthesize plasma proteins, including albumin. Due to inadequate protein, these cells do not produce adequate albumin. Therefore, oncotic pressure in the blood vessels decreases, leading to edema (Grüngreiff et al., 2021). Another characteristic that would change the response is gender influence. The female elderly patient may have low levels of estrogen that would cause hormonal imbalance. Therefore, there would be a decrease in muscle mass and protein synthesis, a possible cause of protein malnutrition. The patient’s progesterone levels may also fluctuate due to menopause, leading to poor nutrient intake and loss of appetite. These gender-based factors may cause protein malnutrition.