A well-functioning immune system is essential for human health and wellbeing. Nutrition plays a major role in shaping and optimising immune functions.
The upcoming activity on ‘Quality of Life Measure as a Marker of Infections’ will review and evaluate the relevance and level of validation of quality of life measures. The goal is to reach an expert consensus on the usefulness of quality of life assessments as an indicator of common infections outcome in the population.
The task force members also intend to explore areas at the crossroads between nutrition and medicine. Two aspects might be considered:
- Examining how nutrition reduces the side effects of medical treatments in general;
- Developing a review on how nutrition affects the response to vaccination.
A review by P. Calder et al (submitted for publication) on the modification of low-grade inflammation (LGI) in ageing concludes that slowing, controlling or reversing LGI may be an important way to prevent or reduce the severity of age-related functional decline and the onset of conditions affecting health and well-being. There is evidence to support specific dietary interventions as a strategy to control inflammageing.
The task force is planning to organise a joint session on the ‘Gut-Brain Axis’ during the 40th European Congress for Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) Congress, in September 2018, Madrid, Spain, with the task forces on Nutrition & Mental Performance, Prebiotics and Probiotics.
This task force focuses on better understanding the impact of nutrition on immune functions and on determining reliable markers of immunomodulation and inflammation relevant to health and wellbeing. In the context of health claims regulation, the task force provides guidance for the design, assessment and interpretation of nutritional intervention studies that are intended to modulate immune functions, supporting researchers to scientifically substantiate immune-related health effects.
- The publication by R. Albers et al., 2013 focuses on immunomodulation and has had more than 3300 of full text views. It describes how to select immune markers for future trials and provides a framework for the interpretation of outcomes.
- A number of inflammatory challenges reflecting metabolic stress, infection and tissue damage have been described in the publication of P. Calder et al., 2013. Using multiple markers and dynamics of response is recommended and the application of standardised methods is outlined. The publication generated more than 85 citations.
- The latest publications (R. Albers et al., 2013; P. Calder et al., 2013) and the upcoming review by P. Calder et al. were highlighted at several events in 2015 and 2016. These include: BIOCLAIMS Meeting with Stakeholders (12-13 February 2015, Palma de Mallorca, Spain); Seminar at Tufts University (2-3 March 2015, Boston, US); FASEB Summer Research Conference on ‘Nutritional Immunology: Role in Health and Disease’ (26-31 July 2015, Lisbon, Portugal); ILSI Europe Session on ‘Markers in Nutrition Research’ at FENS 2015 (20-23 October 2015, Berlin, Germany); the ‘Biology of Ageing Conference’ (22-24 October 2015, Singapore, SG); 17th Latin American Nutrition Congress (8-12 November 2015, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic); Food Matters Live (17-18 November 2015, London, UK) and BENEFIQ 2016 (4-6 October 2016, Quebec City, Canada).
For more detailed information, please contact Dr Tobias Recker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Immune Competence Across Lifespan: Impact of Nutrition on Immune Competence and its Consequences Later in Life
While the importance of a well-functioning immune system is recognised, the critical nutrients supporting optimal immune development in the first years of life as well as the impact of early life nutrition on later life immune competence are still under debate. This activity aims to explore first the interaction between nutrition and immune competence in early life. Markers relevant for health should be identified. Building on these markers, the influence of early life nutrition on health later in life will be evaluated in a second step.
The experts are reviewing and defining the state-of-the art on the following subjects:
- Building on the examination of relevant signalling pathways that are associated with early life, immunity, healthy ageing and longevity, key markers of immune competence are being determined. Since the current focus of the (bio-)marker identification is on the avoidance or mitigation of hypersensitivity, typical pathways for the development of hypersensitivity are considered as well;
- Building on the conclusions of the pathway examination, the experts will review the relevance of the identified immune markers throughout life and evaluate the impact of early life nutrition on health later in life.
It is intended to organise a workshop in 2019 to discuss the conclusions of the scientific review with an enlarged panel of multidisciplinary experts. The workshop should pave the way for reviewing other aspects in subsequent manuscripts, such as defence against pathogens and autoimmune disorders/diseases.
A first manuscript will focus on relevant markers reflecting the avoidance or mitigation of hypersensitivity. Subsequent manuscripts should address additional aspects. The overall outcomes will provide health care professionals with recommendations of readouts for immune competence and nutritional recommendations for an optimal performing immune system early in life. It will further draw associations between early life nutrition and immune competence later in life.
Health Relevance of the Modification of Low-Grade Inflammation in Ageing: Causes, Effects and Health & Wellbeing Consequences of LGI
Low-grade inflammation (LGI) is characterised by levels of inflammatory markers slightly above ‘normal’. LGI has been linked to several chronic adverse health conditions including obesity, metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular diseases. It also occurs as a natural consequence of ageing. However, its relevance for several disease conditions is not clear. Moreover, it is not yet clarified whether a reduction of LGI is really needed to optimise health in ageing. The aim of this project was to clarify if a modification in LGI could have a beneficial effect. The project differed from previous activities as it did not start from a pathological viewpoint and, hence, did not generally consider a modification in the inflammatory response as positive treatment.
The review provides an overview of LGI and determines the potential drivers and effects of the “inflamed” phenotype observed in the elderly. The authors discuss the role of gut microbiota and immune system crosstalk and the gut-brain axis. In addition, the manuscript covers the interaction between liver, adipose tissue, skeletal muscle and additional body compartments in LGI condition. There is likely a key role for nutrition in influencing health and well-being through microbiota-mediated effects. Thus, achieving LGI attenuation or prevention with nutrition could be an important strategy to reduce incidence or severity of age-related functional decline and disease. However, relatively few studies have investigated the effects of dietary modification to target gut microbiota and/or LGI in elderly subjects.
Since the experts conclude conducting more research on dietary modification of gut microbiota, LGI and functional outcomes in elderly people, this peer-reviewed publication provides recommendations for future (clinical) studies on LGI (P. Calder et al., 2017). These recommendations should help to clarify how a modulation of LGI affects immune functions in the host and may benefit health. It could serve as a basis for facilitating the design and interpretation of research and could provide support for the development of health claims on food.
Immune Competence Across Lifespan: Impact of Nutrition on Immune Competence and its Consequences Later in Life – New
Health Relevance of the Modification of Low-grade Inflammation in Ageing: Causes, Effects and Health & Wellbeing Consequences of LGI – Completed
Ageing Research Reviews 2017. Commissioned by the Nutrition, Immunity and Inflammation Task Force.
British Journal of Nutrition. 2013;109(Suppl 1):S1-S34. Commissioned by the Nutrition and Immunity Task Force.
British Journal of Nutrition 2013; 110(2):S1-S30. Commissioned by the Nutrition and Immunity and Probiotics Task Forces.
ILSI Europe Concise Monograph Series. 2011:1-30.