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J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2014 Jan;5(1):158-63. doi: 10.4103/0976-9668.127317.

Impact of iron deficiency anemia on cell-mediated and humoral immunity in children: A case control study.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
  • 2Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.
  • 3Department of Pathology, College of Medicine and Sagore Dutta Hospital, Kolkata, West Bengal, India.



The precise role of iron in immune regulation especially in children vulnerable to iron deficiency is not fully known. Hence, this study was conducted to evaluate the effects of iron deficiency anemia (IDA) and its treatment with oral iron supplementation on cell-mediated immunity (CMI) and humoral immunity (HMI) in children.


A total of 40 children (<15 years) with IDA and 40 age-matched healthy children after satisfying the inclusion criteria were enrolled for this case-control study. Flow cytometric evaluation of absolute and relative numbers of cluster of differentiation 4 (CD4) and CD8 (cluster of differentiation 8) lymphocyte subgroups was carried out to assess the CMI and serum Immunoglobulin G (IgG), Immunoglobulin A (IgA), Immunoglobulin M (IgM) were measured to assess the HMI at baseline and 3 months post oral iron supplementation.


Significantly lower levels (P < 0.05) of CD4+ T-cells and decreased CD4:CD8 ratios were observed in the iron deficient children. Iron supplementation significantly improved the CD4+ cell counts and CD4:CD8 ratios. However, immunoglobulin levels weren't different between the two groups.


Although IDA did not influence HMI, it significantly impaired CMI, which was improved following iron supplementation for 3 months.


Cell-mediated immunity; flow cytometry; humoral immunity; iron deficiency anemia

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