Undernutrition and lepromatous leprosy. III. Micronutrients and their transport proteins.
The present report is a continuation of our earlier studies on the complex interaction between undernutrition and leprosy. Serum levels of vitamins A and E, zinc and iron were determined in healthy control subjects and lepromatous leprosy patients belonging to an eastern state of India. Results indicated a significant lowering in the two above-mentioned fat-soluble vitamins and also a remarkable hypozincaemia in the patient group. However, serum iron levels were found to be comparable in both the groups. Also concentrations of vitamin A transport proteins such as retinol binding protein and prealbumin in sera of the lepromatous patients were significantly decreased in comparison with the control subjects. Of the two zinc-binding proteins, ie, serum albumin and alpha-2 macroglobulin, only the former was significantly reduced in the patient group. Surprisingly, though serum iron, transferrin and ferritin levels were similar in both the patient and control groups, the haemoglobin levels were significantly reduced in the lepromatous patients. The implications of these findings have been discussed. This is the first report describing the serum ferritin levels in lepromatous patients.