Micronutrient malnutrition and wasting in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis with and without HIV co-infection in Malawi

Monique van Lettow, Anthony D. Harries, Johnny J. Kumwenda, Ed E. Zijlstra, Tamara D. Clark, Taha E. Taha, Richard D. Semba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Wasting and micronutrient malnutrition have not been well characterized in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis. We hypothesized that micronutrient malnutrition is associated with wasting and higher plasma human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) load in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis. Methods: In a cross-sectional study involving 579 HIV-positive and 222 HIV-negative adults with pulmonary tuberculosis in Zomba, Malawi, anthropometry, plasma HIV load and plasma micronutrient concentrations (retinol, α-tocopherol, carotenoids, zinc, and selenium) were measured. The risk of micronutrient deficiencies was examined at different severity levels of wasting. Results: Body mass index (BMI), plasma retinol, carotenoid and selenium concentrations significantly decreased by increasing tertile of plasma HIV load. There were no significant differences in plasma micronutrient concentrations between HIV-negative individuals and HIV-positive individuals who were in the lowest tertile of plasma HIV load. Plasma vitamin A concentrations <0.70 μmol/L occurred in 61%, and zinc and selenium deficiency occurred in 85% and 87% respectively. Wasting, defined as BMI<18.5 was present in 59% of study participants and was independently associated with a higher risk of low carotenoids, and vitamin A and selenium deficiency. Severe wasting, defined as BMI<16.0 showed the strongest associations with deficiencies in vitamin A, selenium and plasma carotenoids. Conclusions: These data demonstrate that wasting and higher HIV load in pulmonary tuberculosis are associated with micronutrient malnutrition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number61
JournalBMC infectious diseases
StatePublished - Dec 21 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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