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J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):336S-340S.

The history of nutrition: malnutrition, infection and immunity.

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Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA.


The relationship between nutritional status and the immune system has been a topic of study for much of the 20th century. Dramatic increases in our understanding of the organization of the immune system and the factors that regulate immune function have demonstrated a remarkable and close concordance between host nutritional status and immunity. This report traces the increasing sophistication of our understanding of these relationships and their impact on susceptibility to infection through six stages to the present time. The cyclical relationship between poor nutrition, increased susceptibility to infectious diseases, leading to immunological dysfunction and metabolic responses that further alter nutritional status is described and, wherever possible, related to physiological mechanisms. In addition, the particular role of Nevin Scrimshaw in guiding the progress over the past 50 y is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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