[Immune, inflammatory, and nutritional protein profile in children with iron deficiency in Côte d'Ivoire].Sante 2009 Jan-Mar; 19(1):25-8S
Throughout the world and particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, deficiencies in trace elements constitute a real public health problem because of the insufficient nutritional quality of food. These trace elements are necessary for many of the body's biochemical reactions. The role of microelements such as vitamin A and zinc has been established in the functioning of the immune system and secretion of inflammatory reaction proteins, but the role of iron in these functions remains to be elucidated. The sample consists of 186 children (3/4) 80 with an iron deficiency and 106 with normal iron status. They range in age from 5 to 15 years and all attend school in the department of Adzope. The study excluded all children with parasites that might affect blood iron, protein and other hematological indicators, in particular, Plasmodium falciparum, Giardia intestinalis, Trichomonas intestinalis, Ascaris lumbricoides, and Ancylostoma. Inflammatory, immune and nutritional proteins were measured by radial immunodiffusion (Mancini's method). Ferritin was measured by a specific immunoenzymatic assay. Hematological indicators were tested by an automatic blood cell counter. Nutritional status was estimated by the weight/height ratio (W/H). This analysis showed that iron deficiency was associated with reduced IgG levels (p < 0.05), although immunoglobulins A and M remained stable (p > 0.05. Iron deficiency was also associated with reduced levels of thyroxine-binding prealbumin (TBPA) and albumin (p < 0.05). Inflammatory proteins did not differ significantly between the two groups (p > 0.05). Furthermore, the prognostic inflammatory and nutritional index (PINI) did not show any inflammatory, vital or nutritional risk, because it was lower than or equal to 2. Finally, malnutrition was not observed in the iron-deficient children: the difference in the weight/height ratio (W/H = 96.58 +/- 2.4%) between the children with iron deficiency and those with normal iron status (98.7 +/- 4.3%) did not differ significantly. The reduced IgG associated with iron deficiency may be attributed to the role that iron plays in the proliferation and maturation of lymphocytes. Reduced iron levels would thus lead to slowing down the hematopoietic mechanism, resulting in a decrease in B lymphocyte production and thus inevitably a reduction in IgG synthesis. The reduction in albumin and TBPA associated with the iron deficiency but in the absence of any sign of malnutrition (W/H > 96%) or inflammatory risk (PINI < 2) in either study group shows that iron may play a dominant role during protein synthesis. Iron deficiency might limit the energy of cellular tissues, leading to a reduction in RNA activity (transcription and translation), which would in turn decrease ribosome activity in tissues and thus reduce amino acid synthesis in cells, resulting in the reduction observed in protein synthesis. The lack of difference between the study groups in inflammatory proteins, notably CRP and alpha1-GPA, indicates that iron deficiency does not appear to be related to an inflammatory process. This study of children without any apparent clinical signs of iron deficiency shows that such a deficiency may be associated with a disruption in protein production. The proteins concerned include IgG, TBPA and albumin. The public authorities should pay particular attention to improving children's diets, especially their micronutrient levels, including for iron, vitamin A and zinc.