Date: 05 Jul 2009

Effect of iron deficiency anemia and its treatment on cell mediated immunity

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Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is one of the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies particularly in the developing countries. While there is evidence of an altered immune profile in iron deficiency, the exact immunoregulatory role of iron is not known. Knowledge particularly in children, who are vulnerable to iron deficiency and infection, is lacking. We aimed to study the effects of IDA and its treatment with oral iron supplementation on cell-mediated immunity. The levels of T-lymphocytes, their CD4+, CD8+ and CD1a+ subsets, transferrin receptor (CD71) and serum ferritin were evaluated in 40 iron-deficient and 40 healthy children. The impact of oral iron supplementation for three months on the same parameters was also noted in children with IDA. The level of mature T-lymphocytes (CD4+ and CD8+) was significantly lower (P<0.001) while that of the immature T-cells (CD1a+) was significantly higher (p<0.001) in IDA children compared to the control. The mature T-cell count was significantly improved after iron therapy. In spite of significant reduction in the immature T-cells (CD1a+) level after iron supplementation, it was significantly higher than the control. The present study demonstrated that T-lymphocytes maturation was defective in IDA and improved partially after 3 months of iron supplementation. Therefore, longer time of iron therapy may be required to induce complete maturation of T-lymphocytes.