Trace element supplementation modulates pulmonary infection rates after major burns: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.Am J Clin Nutr 1998; 68(2):365-71AJ
Infections remain the leading cause of death after major burns. Trace elements are involved in immunity and burn patients suffer acute trace element depletion after injury. In a previous nonrandomized study, trace element supplementation was associated with increased leukocyte counts and shortened hospital stays. This randomized, placebo-controlled trial studied clinical and immune effects of trace element supplements. Twenty patients, aged 40 +/- 16 y (mean +/- SD), burned on 48 +/- 17% of their body surfaces, were studied for 30 d after injury. They consumed either standard trace element intakes plus supplements (40.4 micromol Cu, 2.9 micromol Se, and 406 micromol Zn; group TE) or standard trace element intakes plus placebo (20 micromol Cu, 0.4 micromol Se, and 100 micromol Zn; group C) for 8 d. Demographic data were similar for both groups. Mean plasma copper and zinc concentrations were below normal until days 20 and 15, respectively (NS). Plasma selenium remained normal for group TE but decreased for group C (P < 0.05 on days 1 and 5). Total leukocyte counts tended to be higher in group TE because of higher neutrophil counts. Proliferation to mitogens was depressed compared with healthy control subjects (NS). The number of infections per patient was significantly (P < 0.05) lower in group TE (1.9 +/- 0.9) than in group C (3.1 +/- 1.1) because of fewer pulmonary infections. Early trace element supplementation appears beneficial after major burns; it was associated with a significant decrease in the number of bronchopneumonia infections and with a shorter hospital stay when data were normalized for burn size.