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Trends Immunol. 2016 Jun;37(6):386-398. doi: 10.1016/j.it.2016.04.003. Epub 2016 May 26.

Immune Dysfunction as a Cause and Consequence of Malnutrition.

Author information

1
Centre for Genomics and Child Health, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK. Electronic address: c.bourke@qmul.ac.uk.
2
Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI)-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Programme, Centre for Geographic Medicine Research, Kifili, Kenya; Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
3
Centre for Genomics and Child Health, Blizard Institute, Queen Mary University of London, London, UK; Zvitambo Institute for Maternal and Child Health Research, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Abstract

Malnutrition, which encompasses under- and overnutrition, is responsible for an enormous morbidity and mortality burden globally. Malnutrition results from disordered nutrient assimilation but is also characterized by recurrent infections and chronic inflammation, implying an underlying immune defect. Defects emerge before birth via modifications in the immunoepigenome of malnourished parents, and these may contribute to intergenerational cycles of malnutrition. This review summarizes key recent studies from experimental animals, in vitro models, and human cohorts, and proposes that immune dysfunction is both a cause and a consequence of malnutrition. Focusing on childhood undernutrition, we highlight gaps in current understanding of immune dysfunction in malnutrition, with a view to therapeutically targeting immune pathways as a novel means to reduce morbidity and mortality.

KEYWORDS:

enteropathy; immunodeficiency; infection; inflammation; malnutrition; metabolism

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