The potential of spot urine as a biomarker for zinc assessment in Malawian children and adults

Likoswe, Blessings H, Lark, R Murray, Phuka, John, Maleta, Kenneth, Joy, Edward and Lowe, Nicola M orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-6934-2768 (2022) The potential of spot urine as a biomarker for zinc assessment in Malawian children and adults. Frontiers in Nutrition .

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Population-level assessment of zinc deficiency remains a challenge due to the lack of suitable biomarkers. Spot urinary zinc concentration (UZC) has the potential to provide information on population zinc status in large-scale surveys, but there is no established cut-off point indicating deficiency. A strong correlation between this biomarker and an established biomarker such as serum zinc concentration (SZC) in paired samples (i.e., from the same individual), could identify the thresholds indicating zinc deficiency. This study, therefore, aimed to regress spot UZC from school-aged children and women from the Malawi micronutrient survey with paired SZC data using a linear mixed-effects model. The nested variance components indicated no linear relationship between the UZC and SZC data, irrespective of adjustments for inflammation and hydration. Thresholds of urinary zinc excretion that have been suggested by expert panels were applied to the spot UZC data, as a post-hoc analysis. The zinc deficiency prevalence estimates derived from these suggested thresholds were not similar to the estimates from the SZC data, and further research is required to understand whether spot UZC can still provide useful information in population zinc assessment.

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