Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Feeding immunity: skepticism, delicacies and delights

Abstract

Immunologists studying the relationship between nutrition and immunological function face many challenges. We discuss here some of the historical skepticism with which nutritional research has often been faced and the complexities that need to be overcome in order to provide meaningful mechanistic insights.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Nutrition is an important determinant of immunity.
Figure 2: Relationship between nutrient intake and health risk.

References

  1. Martini, E. Lancet 361, 1480 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Lind, J. Treatise on the Scurvy, 3rd ed. (1772).

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chanarin, I. Br. J. Haematol. 111, 407–415 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Maslowski, K.M. & Mackay, C.R. Nat. Immunol. 12, 5–9 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Beisel, W.R. J. Nutr. 122 (suppl.), 591–596 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Simon, J. A Physiological Essay on the Thymus Gland. (H. Renshaw, London, 1845).

    Book  Google Scholar 

  7. Ferreira, M. & Veiga-Fernandes, H. BioEssays 36, 1213–1220 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Sommer, A., Katz, J. & Tarwotjo, I. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 40, 1090–1095 (1984).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Black, R.E. et al. Lancet 382, 427–451 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. West, K.P. Jr. J. Nutr. 132, 2857S–2866S (2002).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. World Health Organization. Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk 1995–2005. in WHO Global Database on Vitamin A Deficiency (World Health Organization, Geneva, 2009).

  12. Wolbach, S.B. & Howe, P.R. J. Exp. Med. 42, 753–777 (1925).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Diness, B.R. et al. Br. J. Nutr. 105, 1819–1822 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Rahmathullah, L. et al. Br. Med. J. 327, 254 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Kaufman, D.R. et al. J. Immunol. 187, 1877–1883 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Benn, C.S., Fisker, A.B., Jorgensen, M.J. & Aaby, P. Vaccine 25, 777–779 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Benn, C.S. et al. Br. Med. J. 331, 1428–1432 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Vlasova, A.N. et al. J. Immunol. 190, 4742–4753 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Roman-Garcia, P. et al. J. Clin. Invest. 124, 2988–3002 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Newton, S. et al. J. Nutr. 135, 2669–2673 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. The Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta Carotene Cancer Prevention Study Group. N. Engl. J. Med. 330, 1029–1035 (1994).

  22. Heaney, R.P. Nutr. Rev. 72, 48–54 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. van de Pavert, S.A. et al. Nature 508, 123–127 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Spencer, S.P. et al. Science 343, 432–437 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Iwata, M. Semin. Immunol. 21, 8–13 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hall, J.A. et al. Immunity 34, 435–447 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mucida, D. et al. Immunity 30, 471–472, author reply 472–473 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Mora, J.R. Semin. Immunol. 21, 28–35 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Veldhoen, M. & Brucklacher-Waldert, V. Nat. Rev. Immunol. 12, 696–708 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kiss, E.A. et al. Science 334, 1561–1565 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Li, Y. et al. Cell 147, 629–640 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Zaid, A. et al. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 111, 5307–5312 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Cimermancic, P. et al. Cell 158, 412–421 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Donia, M.S. et al. Cell 158, 1402–1414 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Arpaia, N. et al. Nature 504, 451–455 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Furusawa, Y. et al. Nature 504, 446–450 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Singh, N. et al. Immunity 40, 128–139 (2014).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Otten, J.J., Hellwig, J.P. & Meyers, L.D. (eds.) Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements (National Research Council, National Academies Press, Washington DC, 2006).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank M. Ferreira for discussions. Supported by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council Institute (Strategic Programme grant to M.V.), the European Research Council (H.V.F.; and 280307 to M.V.), Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal (H.V.F.), the Kenneth Rainnin Foundation (H.V.F.) and the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (H.V.F.).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Marc Veldhoen or Henrique Veiga-Fernandes.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Veldhoen, M., Veiga-Fernandes, H. Feeding immunity: skepticism, delicacies and delights. Nat Immunol 16, 215–219 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.3100

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/ni.3100

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing