Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Clin Nutr. 1998 Jul;68(1):164-70.

Beta-carotene-induced enhancement of natural killer cell activity in elderly men: an investigation of the role of cytokines.

Author information

Jean Mayer US Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


We showed previously that natural killer (NK) cell activity is significantly greater in elderly men supplemented with beta-carotene than in those taking placebo. In an attempt to determine the mechanism of beta-carotene's effect, we analyzed the production of NK cell-enhancing cytokines (interferon alpha, interferon gamma, and interleukin 12). Boston-area participants in the Physicians' Health Study (men aged 65-88 y; mean age, 73 y) who had been supplemented with beta-carotene (50 mg on alternate days) for an average of 12 y were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Elderly subjects taking beta-carotene supplements had significantly greater plasma beta-carotene concentrations than those taking placebo. Beta-carotene-supplemented elderly men had significantly greater NK cell activity than did elderly men receiving placebo. Percentages of NK cells (CD16+CD56+) were not significantly different between the beta-carotene and placebo groups. Production of interleukin 12, interferon alpha, or concanavalin A-stimulated interferon gamma by cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells was not significantly different between beta-carotene-supplemented elderly and those taking placebo. Our results indicate that beta-carotene-induced enhancement of NK cell activity is not mediated by changes in percentages of CD16+CD56+ NK cells nor through up-regulation of interleukin 12 or interferon alpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems
Loading ...
Support Center