Starving Pathogens - Our body's Nutritional Immunity Response


Marilyn's Column | January/2017

Topic: The Liver and Nutritional Immunity?

What is Nutritional Immunity - Did you know that our body even has such a mechanism?

   Yes, and the Liver is a first line Defender.

is an important function of the immune system response that actively kills pathogens. This mechanisms limits nutrient availability to the pathogen. New research shows interleukin-22 (IL-22) plays an essential role in resolution of infections at epithelial barrier sites, including skin, lungs, and intestines. [Sakamoto et al.] (1)

The cytokine interleukin-22 (IL-22) limits the availability of iron to the pathogens by promoting increased production of heme scavengers from the liver. Point here is - Keep your liver healthy and your skin will love it.

Nutrition is a critical determinant of immune responses and malnutrition the most common cause of immunodeficiency worldwide. Protein-energy malnutrition is associated with a significant impairment of cell-mediated immunity, phagocyte function, complement system, secretory immunoglobulin A antibody concentrations, and cytokine production. Deficiency of single nutrients also results in altered immune responses: this is observed even when the deficiency state is relatively mild. Of the micronutrients, zinc; selenium; iron; copper; vitamins A, C, E, and B-6; and folic acid have important influences on immune responses.

Overnutrition and obesity also reduce immunity. Low-birth-weight infants have a prolonged impairment of cell-mediated immunity that can be partly restored by providing extra amounts of dietary zinc. In the elderly, impaired immunity can be enhanced by modest amounts of a combination of micronutrients. These findings have considerable practical and public health significance.

, without adequate nutrition, the immune system is clearly deprived of the components needed to generate an effective immune response. Human malnutrition is usually a complex syndrome of multiple nutrient deficiencies.

Antioxidant nutrients, for example, play a pivotal role in maintaining the antioxidant/oxidant balance in immune cells and in protecting them from oxidative stress and preserving their adequate function [Victor & de la Fuente, 2002]. The addition of the deficient nutrient back to the diet can restore immune function and resistance to infection. However, excessive amounts of some nutrients also impair immune function [Calder and Kew, 2002].

, essential malnutrition, is e to insufficient intake of energy and macronutrients and/or due to deficiencies in specific micronutrients impairs the immune system, suppressing immune functions that are fundamental to host protection. The most consistent abnormalities are seen in cell-mediated immunity, complement system, phagocyte function, cytokine production, mucosal secretory antibody response, and antibody affinity. [Marcos A, et al. ECJN 2003]

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