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Effects of arginine supplementation on the humoral and innate immune response of older people



To evaluate whether oral supplementation with arginine affects the humoral and innate immune response after vaccination against Streptococcus pneumoniae in a group of people aged 60 y and older, free-living in the community.


A randomized controlled trial with one supplemented group and one control group.


Older persons living in the community.


A total of 29 adults aged 60 y and older.


The older people were randomized into two groups, one with arginine supplementation (15 g/day) for 4 weeks after pneumococcal vaccine. The control group received only the vaccine. Anthropometric measurements and immune system function parameters: neutrophil chemotaxis and phagocytosis, natural killer cell activity, determination of serum pneumococcal polysaccharide antibodies and serum C3 and C4.


Neutrophil phagocytosis and the serum concentration of complement (C3 and C4) did not differ between groups. IgG antibodies against pneumococcal polysaccharide serotypes 1, 5 and 6B increased in both groups. The following parameters increased in the arginine-supplemented group compared to the nonsupplemented group: neutrophil chemotaxis (34 vs 19 units of migration, P=0.002), natural killer cell cytotoxicity (23.3 vs 13.4 10 M/Ul 40%, P=0.011) and IgG against antigen 5 (12.3 vs 6.2 μg/ml, P=0.044).


This study suggests that, after the pneumococcal vaccine, the intake of arginine increased neutrophil chemotaxis, natural killer cytotoxicity and serum concentration of IgG against antigen 5 in older people. These results suggest that arginine supplementation may enhance the immune response elicited by the pneumococcal vaccine in older people.


Supported in part by CAPES and FAEPA.

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We are grateful to Dr Julio C Voltarelli, Dr Roberto Passetto Falcão and Vera Simonsen D Vieira for providing the Laboratories for the necessary analyses, and to Maria do Rosário del Lama Unamuno for performing all anthropometric evaluations.

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Correspondence to J C Moriguti.

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Guarantors: JC Moriguti, JS Marchini.

Contributors: JCM carried out this study as part of his PhD project and was responsible for recruitment of patients and for laboratory assays. The work was supervised by JSM and EAD who also analyzed data together with JCM. The paper was drafted by JCM and EF. All authors reviewed and approved the final version.

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Moriguti, J., Ferriolli, E., Donadi, E. et al. Effects of arginine supplementation on the humoral and innate immune response of older people. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 1362–1366 (2005).

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