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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):444-50.

Effect of zinc supplementation on immune and inflammatory responses in pediatric patients with shigellosis.

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International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B): Centre for Health and Population Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh.



Several studies showed benefits of long-term zinc supplementation on the incidence, severity, and duration of diarrhea and on the incidence of respiratory infections. Prolonged zinc supplementation also improves cell-mediated immunity in severely malnourished children.


We studied the effect of short-term zinc supplementation on intrinsic and specific immune and inflammatory responses in moderately malnourished children with acute shigellosis.


A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Shigella-infected children aged 12-59 mo. Elemental zinc (20 mg) and a multivitamin containing vitamins A and D, thiamine, riboflavin, nicotinamide, and calcium at twice the recommended dietary allowance were given daily for 2 wk to the zinc group (n = 28), whereas the multivitamin alone was given to the control group (n = 28). Standard antibiotic therapy was given to all patients.


Serum zinc concentrations increased in both groups during convalescence; however, zinc supplementation showed a significant effect. The lymphocyte proliferation response in the zinc group increased relative to that in the control group (P = 0.002), but no significant effects were seen on concentrations of cytokines (interleukin 2 and interferon gamma) released from mitogen-stimulated mononuclear cells or on concentrations of cytokines (interleukin 2, interferon gamma, and interleukin 1beta) in feces. Among the antigen [lipopolysaccharide and invasion plasmid-encoded antigen (Ipa)]-specific antibodies, plasma Ipa-specific immunoglobulin G responses at day 30 were significantly higher in the zinc group than in the control group. However, the 2 groups did not differ significantly in the other antigen-specific responses in plasma and stool.


A 14-d course of zinc supplementation during acute shigellosis increases the lymphocyte proliferation response and the Ipa-specific immunoglobulin G response.

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