HIV-positive? Zinc deficiency may make inflammation worse

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New York, April 23 (IANS) Zinc deficiency may contribute to chronic inflammation among HIV-positive individuals, says a new study.

If confirmed in larger studies, the findings could lead to new dietary interventions to reduce HIV inflammation.

Zinc functions as an anti-inflammatory agent, and zinc deficiency is a common micronutrient abnormality seen in people with HIV, the researchers said.

The research team observed a significant relationship between serum zinc concentration and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) concentration in HIV-positive individuals – higher zinc concentrations were associated with lower CRP levels.

CRP is a biomarker of inflammation that has been associated with several parameters of HIV disease progression and the focus of extensive epidemiologic investigation because it is also an independent survival predictor, said one of the researchers Krishna Poudel from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US.

“The fact that several studies have suggested that zinc might be something important for us to be aware of led us to analyse this micronutrient in HIV-positive patients,” Poudel noted.

The study was published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research.

The team conducted a cross-sectional survey among 311 HIV-positive participants – 177 men and 134 women – between ages 18-60.

They measured serum and zinc CRP concentrations by standard methods and used a questionnaire, in-person interviews, blood samples and Indian food tables to estimate dietary zinc intake and CRP levels.

The researchers found average CRP concentration significantly decreased as serum zinc concentrations increased in men and women and in all age groups.

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