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J Nutr. 2007 Mar;137(3 Suppl 2):773S-80S. doi: 10.1093/jn/137.3.773S.

Immunological parameters: what do they mean?

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Institute of Human Nutrition, School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 7PX, United Kingdom.


The immune system acts to protect the host from infectious agents that exist in the environment and from other noxious insults. It is constantly active, acting to discriminate "nonself" from "self." The immune system has 2 functional divisions: the innate and the acquired. Both involve various blood-borne factors and cells. A number of methodologies exist to assess aspects of immune function; many of these rely on studying cells in culture ex vivo. There are large interindividual variations in many immune functions even among the healthy. Many factors, including genetics, gender, age, nutrient status, and gut flora, contribute to the observed variation. Individuals with immune responses significantly below "normal" are more susceptible to infectious agents and exhibit increased infectious morbidity and mortality. However, it is not clear how the variation in immune function among healthy individuals relates to variation in susceptibility to infection.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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