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Diagnosis and clinical associations of zinc depletion following bone marrow transplantation.
  1. A Papadopoulou,
  2. K Nathavitharana,
  3. M D Williams,
  4. P J Darbyshire,
  5. I W Booth
  1. Institute of Child Health, University of Birmingham.


    Following the emergence of biochemical zinc deficiency after bone marrow transplantation, the clinical value of plasma alkaline phosphatase activity as an early indicator of biochemical zinc depletion was investigated in this group of patients. Serial measurements of plasma zinc and alkaline phosphatase activities in 28 consecutive children (median age 8.7 years; 16 males) undergoing bone marrow transplantation were carried out and clinical associations recorded. A significant fall in plasma zinc occurred after the bone marrow transplant, and 19 children developed biochemical zinc deficiency (Zn < 11 mumol/l) at a median of 7 days following the transplant. Zinc depletion was more common in younger patients and in children with diarrhoea. A positive correlation was found between plasma zinc and alkaline phosphatase activities. Zinc depleted patients had more febrile episodes of longer duration and were more likely to have a positive blood culture. Haemopoetic recovery was not affected by zinc deficiency. Following zinc supplementation, alkaline phosphatase showed a significant increase. The sensitivity of a low alkaline phosphatase as a screening test for biochemical zinc deficiency was 83%, with a specificity of 86%. Low alkaline phosphatase activity following bone marrow transplant is an indication for zinc supplements.

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