Study Title:

Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis

Study Abstract

This study was designed to test a) whether carbohydrates other than glucose decreased the phagocytic capacity of neutrophils in normal human subjects, b) the duration of this effect, and c) the effect of fasting on neutrophilic phagocytosis. Venous blood was drawn from the arm after an overnight fast and at 0.5, 1, 2, 3, or 5 hr postprandial and this was incubated with a suspension of Staphylococcus epidermidis. The phagocytic index (mean number of bacteria viewed within each neutrophil) was determined by microscopic examination of slides prepared with Wright’s stain. Oral 100-g portions of carbohydrate from glucose, fructose, sucrose, honey, or orange juice all significantly decreased the capacity of neutrophils to engulf bacteria as measured by the slide technique. Starch ingestion did not have this effect. The decrease in phagocytic index was rapid following the ingestion of simple carbohydrates. The greatest effects occurred between 1 and 2 hr postprandial, but the values were still significantly below the fasting control values 5 hr after feeding (P < 0.001). The decreased phagocytic index was not significantly associated with the number of neutrophils. These data suggest that the function and not the number of phagocytes was altered by ingestion of sugars. This implicates glucose and other simple carbohydrates in the control of phagocytosis and shows that the effects last for at least 5 hr. On the other hand, a fast of 36 or 60 hr significantly increased (P < 0.001) the phagocytic index.

Study Information

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 26, Issue 11, November 1973, Pages 1180–1184

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