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J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jan;46(1):19-26.

The effect of zinc and vitamin A supplementation on immune response in an older population.

Author information

1
National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To determine if either supplemental vitamin A, zinc, or both increases cell-mediated immune response in an older population.

DESIGN:

A double-blind, randomized, controlled trial of supplementation with vitamin A and zinc.

SETTING:

Casa Di Riposo Roma III, a public home for older people in Rome, Italy.

SUBJECTS:

The health and nutritional status of 178 residents were evaluated. One hundred thirty-six residents agreed to participate in the trial and were randomized into four treatment groups, and 118 of these residents completed the trial.

INTERVENTION:

The four treatments consisted of: (1) Vitamin A (800 micrograms retinol palmitate); (2) Zinc (25 mg as zinc sulfate); (3) Vitamin A and Zinc (800 micrograms retinol palmitate and 25 mg as zinc sulfate); (4) Placebo capsules containing starch.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASUREMENTS:

Immune tests-counts of leucocytes, lymphocytes, T-cell subsets, and lymphocyte proliferative response to mitogens-were measured before and after supplementation.

RESULTS:

Zinc increased the number of CD4 + DR + T-cells (P = .016) and cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (P = .005). Subjects treated with vitamin A experienced a reduction in the number of CD3 + T-cells (P = .012) and CD4 + T-cells (P = .012).

CONCLUSIONS:

These data indicate that zinc supplementation improved cell-mediated immune response, whereas vitamin A had a deleterious effect in this older population. Further research is needed to clarify the clinical significance of these findings.

PMID:
9434661
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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