image of Impact of Daily Preventive Zinc and Therapeutic Zinc Supplementation for Diarrhea on Plasma Biomarkers of Environmental Enteric Dysfunction among Rural Laotian Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial
  • ISSN: 0002-9637
  • E-ISSN: 1476-1645


Environmental enteric dysfunction (EED) may be ameliorated by zinc supplementation. The objective of this study was to investigate the impact of different forms of zinc supplementation on biomarkers of EED (i.e., plasma citrulline, kynurenine, and tryptophan concentrations and the kynurenine:tryptophan [KT] ratio) among young Laotian children. In a double-blind randomized controlled trial, 3,407 children aged 6–23 months were randomized into one of four groups: daily preventive zinc dispersible tablets (PZ; 7 mg zinc), daily multiple micronutrient powders (MNPs; 10 mg zinc, 6 mg iron, and 13 other micronutrients), therapeutic zinc supplements for diarrhea treatment (TZ; 20 mg/day for 10 days), or daily placebo powder, and followed up for ∼36 weeks. Plasma samples at baseline and endline for 359 children were analyzed for citrulline, kynurenine, and tryptophan concentrations. At baseline, the prevalence of stunting and zinc deficiency was 37% and 83%, respectively. The mean plasma citrulline, kynurenine, and tryptophan concentrations were 24.6 ± 5.4 µmol/L, 3.27 ± 0.83 µmol/L, and 72.3 ± 12.9 µmol/L, respectively; the mean KT ratio (×1,000) was 45.9 ± 12.0. At endline, neither plasma citrulline, kynurenine, or tryptophan concentrations, nor the KT ratio differed among intervention groups ( > 0.05). In this population, PZ, MNPs, and TZ had no overall effect on plasma concentrations of citrulline, kynurenine, and tryptophan, or the KT ratio. The need remains to better understand the etiology of EED, and the development of biomarkers to diagnose EED and evaluate the impact of interventions.

[open-access] This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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  • Received : 07 Aug 2019
  • Accepted : 11 Nov 2019
  • Published online : 30 Dec 2019
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