Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #341939

Research Project: Immunity, Inflammation, and Nutrition in Aging

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Nutritional modulation of age-related changes in the immune system and risk of infection

Author
item Pae, Munkyong - Chungbuk National University
item Wu, Dayong - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Nutrition Research Reviews
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2017
Publication Date: 3/1/2017
Citation: Pae, M., Wu, D. 2017. Nutritional modulation of age-related changes in the immune system and risk of infection. Nutrition Research Reviews. 41:14-35. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2017.02.001.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The immune system undergoes some adverse alterations during aging, many of which have been implicated in the increased morbidity and mortality associated with infection in the elderly. In addition to intrinsic changes to the immune system with aging, the elderly are more likely to have poor nutritional status, which further impacts the already impaired immune function. Although the elderly often have low zinc serum levels, several manifestations commonly observed during zinc deficiency are similar to the changes in immune function with aging. In the case of vitamin E, although its deficiency is rare, the intake above recommended levels is shown to enhance immune functions in the elderly and to reduce the risk of acquiring upper respiratory infections in nursing home residents. Vitamin D is a critical vitamin in bone metabolism, and its deficiency is far more common, which has been linked to increased risk of infection as demonstrated in a number of observational studies including those in the elderly. In this review, we focus on zinc, vitamin E, and vitamin D, the 3 nutrients which are relatively well documented for their roles in impacting immune function and infection in the elderly, to discuss the findings in this context reported in both the observational studies and interventional clinical trials. A perspective will be provided based on the analysis of information under review.