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Journal of Parasitology Research
Volume 2012, Article ID 128628, 9 pages
Clinical Study

Association between Micronutrients (Vitamin A, D, Iron) and Schistosome-Specific Cytokine Responses in Zimbabweans Exposed to Schistosoma haematobium

1Ashworth Laboratories, Institute for Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK
2Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Nationalestraat 155, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
3Schistosomiasis Section, National Institute of Health Research, Box CY 570, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe
4Biochemistry Department, University of Zimbabwe, P.O. Box MP 167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe
5Harvard School of Public Health, Botswana Havard Aids Institute, P. Bag 320, Gaborone, Botswana

Received 29 September 2011; Accepted 20 November 2011

Academic Editor: Sungano Mharakurwa

Copyright © 2012 Liam Reilly et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Micronutrients play an important role in the development of effective immune responses. This study characterised a populations exposed to schistosome infections in terms of the relationship between micronutrients and immune responses. Levels of retinol binding protein (RBP; vitamin A marker), vitamin D, ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and C reactive protein (CRP) were related to levels of schistosome specific cytokines (IFN-γ, IL-4/5/10) in 40 Zimbabweans (7–54 years) exposed to Schistosoma haematobium infection. 67.2% of the participants were deficient in vitamin D. RBP levels were within normal ranges but declined with age. The two indicators of iron levels suggested that although levels of stored iron were within normal levels (normal ferritin levels), levels of functional iron (sTfR levels) were reduced in 28.6% of the population. Schistosome infection alone was not associated with levels of any of the micronutrients, but altered the relationship between parasite-specific IL-4 and IL-5 and levels of ferritin and sTfR.