Nutritional supplements for patients being treated for active visceral leishmaniasis

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Estafanía Custodio1 2, Jesús López-Alcalde3 4, Mercè Herrero5, Carmen Bouza2,, Carolina Jimenez6, Stefan Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann1, Theodora Mouratidou7, Teresa López-Cuadrado8, Agustin Benito2, Jorge Alvar6

1. European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC), Ispra, Italy

2. Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), National Centre of Tropical Medicine, Madrid, Spain

3. Universidad Francisco de Vitoria (UFV) Madrid, Faculty of Medicine, Madrid, Spain

4. Instituto Ramón y Cajal de Investigación Sanitaria (IRYCIS), Clinical Biostatistics Unit, Madrid, Spain

5. World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Neglected Tropical Diseases, Geneva, Switzerland

6. Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), Geneva, Switzerland

7. University of Zaragoza, Department of Physiatry and Nursing, Zaragoza, Spain

8. Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII), National Centre for Epidemiology,Madrid, Spain

Access the full text article here: DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD012261.pub2

 What is the aim of this review

The aim of this Cochrane review was to find out whether oral nutritional supplements could help people who were being treated for visceral leishmaniasis (VL). We tried to collect and analyse all relevant studies that answered this question.

Key messages

We found no trials, either completed or ongoing, that answered our review question. Thus, good quality evidence on the effects of oral nutritional supplements in people who are being treated with anti-leishmanial drug therapy is needed. This evidence could be obtained if a large, well done, randomized clinical trial was undertaken.

What was studied in this review

VL, also known as kala-azar, is an infection that has a worldwide distribution. It can lead to death if untreated. Malnutrition and VL are interconnected health problems. On the one hand, malnutrition may hasten the progression of the infection, while on the other hand, VL worsens the malnutrition status of the individual. Also, if a person with VL is malnourished, she or he does not respond as well to the treatment for leishmaniasis. As VL frequently affects people living in poor countries, with limited access to optimal diets, giving additional nutrients to people receiving treatment for VL may improve their nutrition, and thus, their health.

We searched for trials that evaluated the effects of providing any oral nutritional supplement, compared with placebo, dietary advice, or no nutritional intervention, in people who were being treated for VL.

What are the main results of this review?

We found no trials, either completed or ongoing, that answered our review question. Thus, there is no high quality evidence from trials to inform healthcare professionals about the effects of oral nutritional supplements in people who are being treated for VL.

This absence of evidence should not be interpreted as evidence of no effect for nutritional supplements in people under VL treatment. It means that we did not identify any eligible research for this review, and that the effects of oral nutritional supplements have yet to be determined by rigorous studies.

How up-to-date is this review

We searched for studies that had been published up to 12 September 2017.