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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UMass Amherst Researchers Indicates Zinc Deficiency Contributes to Increased Inflammation among HIV-positive Individuals

A research investigation led by Dr. Krishna Poudel, associate professor of community health education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, shows that zinc deficiency may be a leading contributor to chronic inflammation among HIV-positive individuals. Dr. Poudel and colleagues are reporting their findings in an article titled “Serum Zinc Concentration and C-Reactive Protein in Individuals with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection: the Positive Living with HIV (POLH) Study” now appearing online ahead of print in the journal Biological Trace Element Research.

[Photo: Dr. Krishna Poudel]

Low zinc levels and chronic inflammation are common in individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Zinc deficiency may promote systemic inflammation, but research on the role of zinc in inflammation among HIV-positive individuals taking account of anti-retroviral therapy (ART) has till now been lacking.

Dr. Poudel and colleagues set out to assess the association between serum zinc concentration and levels of a pro-inflammatory biomarker known as C-reactive protein (CRP) among this population. CRP has been associated with multiple parameters of disease progression and the focus of extensive epidemiologic investigation as it is an independent predictor of survival.

The research team conducted a cross-sectional survey among 311 HIV-positive individuals (177 men and 134 women) aged 18-60 years residing in Kathmandu, Nepal, all of whom are participants in the Positive Living with HIV (POLH) Study cohort organized by Dr. Poudel. High-sensitive or regular serum CRP concentrations were measured by the latex agglutination nephelometry or turbidimetric method, and zinc concentrations were measured by the atomic absorption method. Relationships were assessed using multiple linear regression analysis.

Dr. Poudel’s team found a significant inverse relation between serum zinc concentration and serum CRP concentration in HIV-positive individuals, even among those with a history of ART. The authors conclude that this finding may lead to potential new intervention strategies to reduce inflammation, thereby improving health and quality of life of HIV-positive individuals, but first recommend further prospective studies.

UMass Amherst associate professor of epidemiology, Dr. Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson and assistant professor Dr. Kalpana Poudel-Tandukar of the College of Nursing also contributed to the article.