, Volume 7, Issue 5–6, pp 429–435 | Cite as

Effect of improved zinc status on T helper cell activation and TH1/TH2 ratio in healthy elderly individuals

  • Laura Kahmann
  • Peter Uciechowski
  • Sabine Warmuth
  • Marco Malavolta
  • Eugenio Mocchegiani
  • Lothar Rink
Research Article


Mild zinc deficiency is a common condition in healthy elderly individuals leading to impaired cell-mediated immune response. Here we report the effect of improved zinc status on TH1/TH2 balance and on the activation status of T helper cells in 19 healthy elderly subjects aged 69.8 ± 5.1 years. Our investigations revealed a mild zinc deficiency which was adjusted by oral zinc supplementation for seven weeks. Improved serum zinc levels significantly reduced levels of activated T helper cells whereas changes in TH1/TH2 ratio (determined by CCR4 and CCR5 expression) were not observed. These findings suggest that elderly individuals may benefit from moderate zinc supplementation due to improved immune response leading to reduced incidences of autoimmune diseases and infections.


Activated T cells CCR4/CCR5 ratio Elderly Serum zinc level TH1/TH2 balance Zinc deficiency Zinc supplementation 



T helper cell type 1


T helper cell type 2


Chemokine receptor


Phosphate buffered saline


Fetal calf serum


Regulatory T cells


Forkhead/winged helix transcription factor



This study was supported in part by the EU project ZINCAGE (Food-CT-2003-506850). We thank Ms. Romney Haylett for critical reading of the manuscipt.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura Kahmann
    • 1
  • Peter Uciechowski
    • 1
  • Sabine Warmuth
    • 2
  • Marco Malavolta
    • 3
  • Eugenio Mocchegiani
    • 3
  • Lothar Rink
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of ImmunologyRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  2. 2.University Employee Health OfficeRWTH Aachen University HospitalAachenGermany
  3. 3.Immunology Centre, Nutrition, Immunity, and Aging Section, Research Department INRCAAnconaItaly

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