Zinc levels in the blood play an important role in the prognosis of a covid patient. An observational study carried out by researchers from the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona with 249 coronavirus patients reveals that those with low zinc levels had more severe symptoms, more inflammation and a worse prognosis: mortality was 21% in this group compared to 5 % in patients with high amounts of zinc in the blood. The research, published in the scientific journal Nutrients , opens the door to study the possibility of using supplements of this mineral as part of the recovery therapy of infected patients.
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mouse antibody The bonanzas of zinc to alleviate common colds have been studied for a long time. This essential mineral, which is acquired through food, helps the body's enzymes to function, especially at the level of the immune system, and serves to balance the immune response. In fact, more than 35 years ago, a study already raised the use of zinc lozenges as a therapy against colds : the research then found that these pills shortened the average duration of common colds by about seven days. With the arrival of the pandemic, zinc was also reverted to as a mechanism to combat covid, especially in combination with hydroxychloriquine, an anti-malaria drug that, in the end, turned out to be ineffective in stopping the virus. The former president of the United States, Donald Trump, also received zinc supplements (in addition to famotidine, vitamin D, melatonin, aspirin and monoclonal antibodies) when he was diagnosed with covid: its effectiveness was not proven, but its safety profile was high.
In this line of studying the role of zinc in the fight against coronavirus infection, researchers from the Hospital del Mar and the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) began to record the zinc levels of patients with covid who entered the health center. In total, they recruited data from 249 adult covid patients, aged 65 years on average and treated in the hospital between March 9 and April 1.
“There was already a pathophysiological basis and then we discovered that having low zinc [ below 50 micrograms per deciliter of blood] was synonymous with getting worse: more inflammation, more admissions to intensive care (ICU) and more recovery time, ”says the infectologist and author of the study, Roberto Güerri. After making the mandatory adjustments for age or sex, the researchers found that one in five patients with low zinc levels died, while in those who presented higher indicators of the mineral when they entered the hospital, mortality was 5%. Zinc deficiency is a common condition in older people and people with chronic diseases, two of the most vulnerable groups to covid.
In parallel, the researchers also studied in vitro the effects of zinc on the replication of the coronavirus and discovered that the Lack of this mineral causes an immune imbalance and an increase in viral load. “UPF researchers, Juana Díez and Rubén Vicente, cultured cells with different levels of zinc and infected them with coronavirus. The result was that, where there were low levels of zinc, the virus grew a lot, while in those cells with high levels of zinc, the coronavirus replicated less ”, says Güerri.
The finding of the Hospital del Mar researchers opens the door to new trials to study zinc supplements as a possible prophylaxis or as a treatment in people at risk of zinc deficiency
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