Objective: To assess the efficacy of weekly zinc or zinc plus retinol as adjuncts for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Methods: Double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in 350 patients >15 years old with smear-positive tuberculosis in Nigeria (ISRCTN36636609). In addition to antituberculous treatment, patients were randomly allocated to weekly supplements of zinc (90 mg), zinc plus retinol (5000 IU) or placebos for 6 months. Primary outcomes were time to sputum smear conversion and resolution of radiographic abnormalities.
Results: After 8 weeks of treatment, 68% had achieved sputum smear conversion, and the median conversion time was 6.5 weeks. Hazard ratios (HR, 95%CI) for sputum conversion relative to the placebo group were not significant for zinc (1.07, 0.92-1.29) or zinc plus retinol (0.89, 0.76-1.07). Significant predictors of time to sputum conversion were lung abnormality score, sputum smear grade, age and serum C-reactive protein. HIV co-infection and gender were not independent predictors of time to sputum conversion. There were no significant differences between supplement groups in clinical, radiological or laboratory outcomes at 2 months or 6 months. There were 9, 9 and 2 deaths in patients receiving zinc, zinc plus retinol or placebos, respectively. Mortality in those who received zinc (HR 1.71, 0.88-3.58) or zinc plus retinol (HR 1.54, 0.78-3.26) did not differ significantly from those who received placebos. Most deaths occurred in patients co-infected with HIV.
Conclusions: Supplementation with zinc or zinc plus retinol did not lead to better outcomes than placebos, and caution is warranted regarding routine micronutrient supplementation, particularly in patients co-infected with HIV.
© 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.