Biological markers in children with iron deficiency

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The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of iron deficiency on measures of the TH1, TH2 and innate immune responses of children. The hypothesis was that iron deficiency may enhance the TH1 and innate immune responses. In 70 Zimbabwean children <5 years of age studied at well-child clinics, iron status was determined by measuring serum concentrations of transferrin receptor (TFR) and ferritin (FTN), and taking the ratio of TFR/log10 FTN to define iron deficiency. Serum levels of the TH1 immune markers interleukin (IL)-12, interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and inducible protein-10 (IP-10), the TH2 cytokines IL4 and IL10 and the innate immune response cytokine tumor necrosis factor-α(TNF-α) were compared according to the presence or absence of iron deficiency in analysis of variance models that adjusted for age and the Q248H mutation in ferroportin. Fourteen of the children had iron deficiency. Serum concentrations of IP-10 (P =.029) and TNF-α (P=.005), but not the other immune markers, were significantly lower in the children with iron deficiency. Most of the children did not have measurable levels of IL-12 and IFN-γ, but all of those who did (four in the case of IFN-γ and 3 in the case of IL-12) were not iron deficient. The results of this study are consistent with the possibility that iron deficiency is associated with decreased production of TH1 and innate response immune molecules.

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