Study Title:

Nutritional Supplementation Helps Elderly Immune Response

Study Abstract

BACKGROUND: Immune response is impaired in the elderly. Our aim was to study the effects of a special nutritional formula on the immune response and response to influenza and pneumococcal vaccination in elderly subjects.

METHODS: Sixty healthy subjects aged > or = 70 years, with a Mini Mental score > or = 22 were studied. Half of the subjects received a special nutritional formula (in addition to the regular diet) providing, among other nutrients, 480 kcal, 31 g proteins, 120 IU vitamin E, 3.8 microg vitamin B12, 400 microg folic acid, 10(9) cfu Lactobacillus paracasei (NCC 2461), and 6 g of fructo-oligosaccharides. At 4 months of follow-up, subjects were vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcus. Lymphokine production by mononuclear cells (PBMC), lymphocyte subpopulations, and natural killer cell (NK) activity were measured at baseline and 4 months of follow-up (before vaccination). Antibodies against influenza and pneumococcal antigens and flu-stimulated production of interferon gamma and interleukin-2 by PBMC were measured at 4 and 6 months. Skin response to 7 recall antigens and body composition were assessed at baseline and at 4 and 12 months. All infections occurring during the study period were recorded.

RESULTS: NK activity increased in supplemented subjects and decreased in nonsupplemented individuals. Interleukin-2 production by PBMC and the proportion of T cells with NK activity decreased in controls and did not change in supplemented subjects. Supplemented subjects reported less infections than nonsupplemented individuals (in 13% and 22% of scheduled visits, respectively; p = .02).

CONCLUSIONS: This nutritional supplement increased innate immunity and protection against infections in elderly people.

Study Information

Bunout D, Barrera G, Hirsch S, Gattas V, de la Maza MP, Haschke F, Steenhout P, Klassen P, Hager C, Avendaño M, Petermann M, Muñoz C.
Effects of a nutritional supplement on the immune response and cytokine production in free-living Chilean elderly.
JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr.
2004 September
Department of Medicine, Central Campus Faculty of Medicine, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile

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