Background: Although anemia is common among adults with pulmonary tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in sub-Saharan Africa, the factors contributing to its pathogenesis have not been well characterized.
Objective: To characterize the antioxidant micronutrient status, interleukin-6 (IL-6) concentrations, and HIV load in relationship with anemia in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis.
Setting: Zomba district, Malawi.
Methods: Erythropoietin, IL-6, plasma HIV load, and markers of micronutrient status (hemoglobin (Hb), plasma concentrations of retinol, alpha-tocopherol, carotenoids, ferritin, zinc, and selenium) were measured in 500 adults who presented with pulmonary tuberculosis in Zomba Central Hospital, Malawi.
Results: Among 370 HIV-positive and 130 HIV-negative adults, the prevalence of anemia was 88 and 77%, respectively (P = 0.002), and moderate to severe anemia (Hb < 80 g/l) occurred in 30 and 15%, respectively (P = 0.001). Geometric mean IL-6 concentration was 21.1 pg/ml, with no difference between HIV-positive and -negative adults. The erythropoietin response to anemia was not different between adults with elevated IL-6 and those with lower IL-6 concentrations. In a multivariate logistic regression model, HIV load, and lower plasma selenium concentrations were associated with moderate to severe anemia. In a final multivariate linear regression model, IL-6, plasma HIV load, and plasma selenium concentrations were associated with Hb concentrations.
Conclusion: This study suggests that low selenium concentrations, high HIV load, and high IL-6 concentrations are associated with anemia in adults with pulmonary tuberculosis in sub-Saharan Africa.