Zinc and the Altered Immune System in the Elderly
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Immune function is severely compromised during states of zinc deficiency. A general observation in elderly people is a reduced serum/plasma zinc level. The decline of immune function with aging, so-called immunosenescence, has several parallels with immunological alterations observed during zinc deficiency; thus, it is plausible that both events are associated, implying an impact of altered zinc status on immune function in the elderly. This is supported by several studies showing that zinc supplementation has a beneficial effect on immune function of elderly people and reverses several changes associated with immunosenescence. This chapter therefore argues that zinc deficiency contributes to immunosenescence.
KeywordsZinc Deficiency Zinc Level Zinc Supplementation Natural Killer Cell Activity Serum Zinc
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