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 ofEED(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; 7mg zinc), daily multiple micronutrient powders (MNP; 10 mg zinc, 6mg 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 76.5%, 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 (P> 0.05). In this population, PZ, MNP, 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.


Public Health and Sports Medicine

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© 2020 by The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

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American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene