Table 1 Brief presentation of some physiological and pathological situations in which nutrition acts as a primary or a secondary determinant of immune function impairment

From: Changes in the immune system are conditioned by nutrition

Physio/pathological situation Some observed effects on immunity Nutritional advise
PEM Thymus atrophy, leukopenia, ↓ CD4/CD8 Reversible with refeeding
Ageing ↑ frequency of infections, ↓ IL-2 production, ↓ lymphocyte proliferation Beneficial nutrient supplementation
Obesity Immunosuppression, ↑ frequency of infections, poor antibody response Rationally controlled weight loss and then weight stability
Eating disorders Leukopenia, relative lymphocytosis, ↓ DTH response, altered pattern of cytokine secretion Nutritional rehabilitationNutritional education and correction of dietary habits
Sports requiring low body weight Leukopenia, lymphopenia, ↓ DTH response, altered pattern of cytokine secretion. Nutritional rehabilitationNutritional education and correction of dietary habits
Food allergy Hyper-response of immunologic mechanisms leading to asthma, atopic eczema and other allergic manifestations. Strict avoidance of allergenic food. Prevention through breast feeding, hydrolysed milk formulas and delayed introduction of allergenic foods
Gastrointestinal disorders Those secondary to nutrient deficiencies Administration of probiotics with adequate bacteria strains
  Failure of mucosal mechanisms of defence (altered IgA-mediated protection)  
  Impairment of the homeostatic response to limit epithelial inflammation