Myocardial infarction

Figure 5 Linkage between inflammation as part of the defense against infection and as a factor in insulin insensitivity and disease processes.

Influence of Nutrients on Cytokine Biology

Proinflammatory cytokines exert widespread effects on metabolism, involving alterations in lipid, carbohydrate, and protein metabolism. In addition, there are substantial changes in micronutrient metabolism. A number of intracellular signaling pathways are activated by the actions of cytokines on target cells, including prostaglandins and leukotrienes, cyclic AMP, and protein kinase C. There are thus many levels at which nutrient intake can modify the intensity and characteristics of the response to inflammatory stimuli. The ability of nutrients to modify inflammation has been used in the treatment of diseases with an inflammatory basis. The interaction between nutritional status and inflammation is also important in public health because it determines the effects of infection on growth and well-being of populations with a poor nutrient intake.

The earliest indications that nutritional status could affect cytokine biology came from studies on malnourished hospital patients. White blood cells from patients had a reduced capacity to produce cytokines. The high mortality rates in these patients highlighted the importance of cytokines in the process of recovery from injury and infection. Protein supplements improved cytokine production and decreased the mortality rate. Since these observations were made, a large number of studies have been conducted in animals and human volunteers that show that fats, amino acids, and micronutrients change the ability of mammals to produce and respond to IL-1, IL-6, and TNF (Figure 6). Figure 6

infection Trauma Chronic inflammatory infection Trauma Chronic inflammatory


Target tissue responsiveness disease

Target tissue responsiveness n-6 PUFAs Vitamin E deficiency

Protein deficiency n-3 PUFAs f+ n-6 PUFAs n-3 PUFAs n-9 MUFAs Protein deficiency Sulfur amino acid deficiency

Biological/pathological effect

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