Micronutrients and innate immunity

The Journal of Infectious Diseases
K L EricksonN E Hubbard


Micronutrients such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, beta-carotene, vitamins A, C, and E, and folic acid can influence several components of innate immunity. Select micronutrients play an important role in alteration of oxidant-mediated tissue injury, and phagocytic cells produce reactive oxidants as part of the defense against infectious agents. Thus, adequate micronutrients are required to prevent damage of cells participating in innate immunity. Deficiencies in zinc and vitamins A and D may reduce natural killer cell function, whereas supplemental zinc or vitamin C may enhance their activity. The specific effects of micronutrients on neutrophil functions are not clear. Select micronutrients may play a role in innate immunity associated with some disease processes. Future studies should focus on issues such as age-related micronutrient status and innate immunity, alterations of micronutrients in disease states and their effect on innate immunity, and the mechanisms by which micronutrients alter innate immunity.

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