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Suggested Citation:"III Introduction to Immune Function." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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III
INTRODUCTION TO IMMUNE FUNCTION

Part III presents an overview of the current state of knowledge of immune function and the interaction of nutrition with immune response. Chapter 7 reviews the wealth of recent research that has led to exciting advances in the understanding of interactions among nutrition, immunity, and infection. It is now established that undernutrition is associated with consistent changes in immune responses that include number of T-cells, lymphocyte response to mitogens and antigens, phagocyte function, secretory IgA antibody response, complement activity, and NK cell activity. The nature of cytokines, the so-called hormones of the immune system, is explored in Chapter 8. Their biochemistry and classification, mode of action, and measurement are discussed as well as the potential of cytokines as an additional tool for assessing effects of nutrition and stress interactions.

Suggested Citation:"III Introduction to Immune Function." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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Suggested Citation:"III Introduction to Immune Function." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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Page203
Suggested Citation:"III Introduction to Immune Function." Institute of Medicine. 1999. Military Strategies for Sustainment of Nutrition and Immune Function in the Field. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/6450.
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Page204
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Every aspect of immune function and host defense is dependent upon a proper supply and balance of nutrients. Severe malnutrition can cause significant alteration in immune response, but even subclinical deficits may be associated with an impaired immune response, and an increased risk of infection. Infectious diseases have accounted for more off-duty days during major wars than combat wounds or nonbattle injuries. Combined stressors may reduce the normal ability of soldiers to resist pathogens, increase their susceptibility to biological warfare agents, and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines intended to protect them. There is also a concern with the inappropriate use of dietary supplements.

This book, one of a series, examines the impact of various types of stressors and the role of specific dietary nutrients in maintaining immune function of military personnel in the field. It reviews the impact of compromised nutrition status on immune function; the interaction of health, exercise, and stress (both physical and psychological) in immune function; and the role of nutritional supplements and newer biotechnology methods reported to enhance immune function.

The first part of the book contains the committee's workshop summary and evaluation of ongoing research by Army scientists on immune status in special forces troops, responses to the Army's questions, conclusions, and recommendations. The rest of the book contains papers contributed by workshop speakers, grouped under such broad topics as an introduction to what is known about immune function, the assessment of immune function, the effect of nutrition, and the relation between the many and varied stresses encountered by military personnel and their effect on health.

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