Immunological effects of zinc as an adjunctive therapy for severe pneumonia in Gambian children

ING Staff: Pa Tamba Ngom

The main objective of this study is to determine the immunological impact of adjuvant zinc (Zn) supplementation in Gambian children with severe pneumonia. Pneumonia is a major killer and Zn supplementation has a potential for improving morbidity and mortality. The mechanisms are not known, but are likely due to effects on the immune system. In order to improve understanding of the mechanisms behind the effects of Zn on the outcome of pneumonia, are conducting an ancillary study to an on-going randomized placebo-controlled study of the efficacy of Zn on pneumonia in 2-59 month old Gambian children. The specific aims of this immunological arm are to determine whether adjuvant zinc supplementation will influence: 1) thymus size as assessed by serial ultrasonography; 2) thymic output and T cell generation, assessed by real time PCR and flow cytometric analysis of lymphocyte subsets; 3) immune pathology involving dysregulation and imbalances in the TH1 and TH2 profiles, assessed by functional assays including cell proliferation and cytokine secretion. It is envisaged that data obtained from this sub-study will add a mechanistic understanding to the role of supplementary zinc in the treatment of severe pneumonia.

child on bed malnourished

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