Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Gastroenterology. 1991 Jun;100(6):1616-25.

The influence of zinc status and malnutrition on immunological function in Crohn's disease.

Author information

  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, St. Thomas' Hospital, London, England.


Cellular immunity is likely to be important in the pathogenesis of Crohn's disease; whether it is abnormal is not clear. The heterogeneity of patients with Crohn's disease probably underlies the disparity of reports, but attempts to determine which clinical features influence cellular immunity have been largely unsuccessful. This is probably caused by the omission of nutritional status as a potential factor, even though zinc deficiency has frequently been linked with abnormal immunity. Therefore, a detailed study of nutritional and tissue zinc status, nonspecific cellular immunity, and a measure of phagocytic function was performed in 32 patients with Crohn's disease and in a control group of 18 normal subjects and 12 patients with anorexia nervosa. Fourteen patients with Crohn's disease, all patients with anorexia nervosa, but none of the normal controls were malnourished. Peripheral blood lymphocyte population levels were normal in patients with Crohn's disease and in normal controls, but there was a small decrease in the levels of patients with anorexia nervosa. In vivo delayed hypersensitivity skin test responses were profoundly depressed in patients with anorexia nervosa and decreased in patients with Crohn's disease who were malnourished or receiving systemic glucocorticoids. In vitro lymphocyte transformation was reduced in malnourished patients with Crohn's disease, but there were only minor changes in patients with anorexia nervosa. There were alterations of in vitro immunoregulation in Crohn's disease, but they were not responsible for the abnormal lymphocyte transformation responses in malnourished patients. In vitro phagocytic function was reduced in patients with active Crohn's disease. These findings suggest that depressed in vivo and in vitro cellular immunity in malnourished patients with Crohn's disease is caused by a qualitative lymphocyte defect and that depressed in vivo but normal in vitro cellular immunity in anorexia nervosa is caused by a quantitative defect. Thus, malnutrition in Crohn's disease resembles kwashiorkor; in anorexia nervosa, it resembles marasmus. Tissue zinc status was mostly normal in Crohn's disease and anorexia nervosa, and zinc deficiency was not responsible for depressed nonspecific cellular immunity in either condition.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Support Center