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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #172670


item Meydani, Simin
item Han, Sung Nim
item Hamer, Davidson

Submitted to: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/5/2004
Publication Date: 12/14/2004
Citation: Meydani, S., Han, S., Hamer, D.H. 2004. Vitamin E and respiratory infection in the elderly. In: Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences. Vitamin E and Health Symposium, May 22-24, 2004, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. p. 1031:214-222.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Respiratory infections are prevalent in the elderly, resulting in increased morbidity, mortality, and utilization of health care services. Contributing to the increased incidence of infection with age is the well-described decline in immune response, which has been correlated with patterns of illness in the elderly. For example, there is higher morbidity and mortality from cancer, pneumonia, and post-operative complications in those who have diminished, delayed-type hypersensitivity skin test responses. Nutritional status is an important determinant of immune function. We have shown in double blind, placebo-controlled trials that vitamin E supplementation significantly improved immune response, including DTH and response to vaccines. Furthermore, subjects receiving vitamin E in the 6-month trial had a 30 percent lower incidence of infectious diseases. That study, however, was not powered to demonstrate statistical significance, and the infections were self-reported. To overcome these limitations, we conducted a double blind, placebo-controlled trial to determine the effect of 1-year supplementation with 200 IU per day vitamin E on the incidence and duration of respiratory infections in 617 elderly nursing home residents. The results of this clinical trial show that vitamin E supplementation significantly reduces the incident rate of common colds and the number of subjects who acquire a cold among elderly nursing home residents. A non-significant reduction in the duration of colds was also observed. Because of the high rate and more severe morbidity associated with common colds in this age group, these findings have important implications for the well being of the elderly as well as for the economic burden associated with their care.