Efficacy of zinc supplements in reducing relapses in steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome

Pediatr Nephrol. 2009 Aug;24(8):1583-6. doi: 10.1007/s00467-009-1170-5. Epub 2009 Apr 4.


Relapses in steroid-sensitive nephrotic syndrome (SSNS) often follow infections of the respiratory or gastrointestinal tract. Based on data that zinc supplements reduce the risk of infections, we examined the efficacy of such supplements in reducing relapse rates in these patients. Eighty-one patients with SSNS (1-16 years old) were stratified into frequent (n = 52) and infrequent (n = 29) relapsers and randomized to receive 12-months of therapy with the recommended dietary allowance of zinc (10 mg/day) (n = 40) or placebo (n = 41). Patients with frequent relapses also received long-term, alternate-day prednisolone. Subjects receiving zinc showed a 20% lower frequency of relapses, with 44.7% of the patients having sustained remission compared to 27.5% in the placebo group (P > 0.05). Patients with frequent relapses receiving zinc showed a 28% reduction in relapse rates and a significantly higher likelihood of sustained remission (P = 0.02). Findings from this double blind, randomized study suggest that zinc supplementation results in trends towards remission and reduced relapses, especially in patients with frequent relapses. Prospective, adequately powered studies are required for confirmation of these findings.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Nephrotic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Prednisolone / therapeutic use*
  • Recurrence
  • Zinc / therapeutic use*


  • Glucocorticoids
  • Prednisolone
  • Zinc