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J Nutr Biochem. 2004 Jul;15(7):418-25.

Energy restriction restores the impaired immune response in overweight (cafeteria) rats.

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Department of Physiology and Nutrition, University of Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain.


Impaired immune function linked to obesity has been shown in both human and animal studies. The purpose of this work was to evaluate the effects of a 4-week energy restriction (50% of total energy intake) on immune function in previously diet-induced (cafeteria) overweight rats. Flow cytometric analysis revealed that the number of spleen T helper cells were significantly (P < 0.05) elevated in control and overweight energy-restricted rats as compared with groups fed ad libitum groups. The proliferative response of splenocytes to phytohaemaglutinin and concanavalin A from overweight rats after energy restriction was significantly (P < 0.05) higher compared to overweight nonrestricted rats. The cytotoxic activity of natural killer cells tended to be lower in overweight rats compared to controls. Finally, control rats under the dietary deprivation period presented higher levels of uncoupling protein 2 mRNA and lower levels of leptin receptor mRNA compared with the reference control group. These results suggest that energy restriction is able to restore, at least in part, the impaired immune response commonly observed in overweight animals.

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