Cellular and Molecular Basis of Nutrition-Immunity Interactions
It is now established that nutrition is a critical determinant of immunocompetence and risk of illness. Young children with protein-energy malnutrition exhibit increased mortality and morbidity, due largely to infectious disease. Recent work has demonstrated that undernourished individuals have impaired immune responses. The most consistent abnormalities are seen in cell-mediated immunity, complement system, phagocytes, mucosal secretory antibody response, and antibody affinity. These changes, together with other handicapping factors observed in underprivileged societies, lead to more infections, which in turn produce physiological changes that worsen nutritional status. It is now established that deficiencies of single nutrients also impair immune responses. The best studied are zinc, iron, vitamin B6, vitamin A, copper, and selenium. If malnutrition occurs during fetal life, as epitomized by small-for-gestational age infants, the effects on cell-mediated immunity are very significant and long lasting. There is much recent evidence to suggest that at the other end of the age spectrum, namely in old age, nutrition plays an important role in maintenance of optimum immunity. These interactions of nutrition and immunity have several practical applications. In this interpretative review, a summary of current findings is given.
KeywordsMigration Inhibition Factor Nutritional Deficiency Lymphocyte Proliferation Response Cutaneous Hypersensitivity Laboratory Animal Model
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