infections, low immunity

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Infections, Low immunity (immune deficiency) can be prevented and treated by means of periodic fasting and caloric restriction. Experimental and clinical evidence. 

 2016 Feb;38(1):13. doi: 10.1007/s11357-016-9876-3. Epub 2016 Jan 21.

Intermittent fasting favored the resolution of Salmonella typhimurium infection in middle-aged BALB/c mice.

Intermittent fasting (IF) reportedly increases resistance and intestinal IgA response to Salmonella typhimurium infection in mature mice. The aim of this study was to explore the effect of aging on the aforementioned improved immune response found with IF. Middle-aged male BALB/c mice were submitted to IF or ad libitum (AL) feeding for 40 weeks and then orally infected with S. typhimurium. Thereafter, infected animals were all fed AL (to maximize their viability) until sacrifice on day 7 or 14 post-infection. We evaluated body weight, bacterial load (in feces, Peyer's patches, spleen and liver), total and specific intestinal IgA, lamina propria IgA+ plasma cells, plasma corticosterone, and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of α-chain, J-chain, and the polymeric immunoglobulin receptor (pIgR) in liver and intestinal mucosa. In comparison with the infected AL counterpart, the infected IF group (long-term IF followed by post-infection AL feeding) generally had lower intestinal and systemic bacterial loads as well as higher total IgA on both post-infection days. Both infected groups showed no differences in corticosterone levels, body weight, or food and caloric intake. The increase in intestinal IgA was associated with enhanced pIgR mRNA expression in the intestine (day 7) and liver. Thus, to maintain body weight and caloric intake, IF elicited metabolic signals that possibly induced the increased hepatic and intestinal pIgR mRNA expression found. The increase in IgA probably resulted from intestinal IgA transcytosis via pIgR. This IgA response along with phagocyte-induced killing of bacteria in systemic organs (not measured) may explain the resolution of the S. typhimurium infection.

Fasting for three days can regenerate entire immune system, study finds

A person's entire immune system can be rejuvenated by fasting for as little as three days as it triggers the body to start producing new white blood cells, a study suggests. 

By Sarah Knapton, Science Correspondent7:51PM BST 05 Jun 2014, The Telegraph.  

Fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system, even in the elderly, scientists have found in a breakthrough described as "remarkable". Although fasting diets have been criticised by nutritionists for being unhealthy, new research suggests starving the body kick-starts stem cells into producing new white blood cells, which fight off infection. Scientists at the University of Southern California say the discovery could be particularly beneficial for people suffering from damaged immune systems, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy. It could also help the elderly whose immune system becomes less effective as they age, making it harder for them to fight off even common diseases.

The researchers say fasting "flips a regenerative switch" which prompts stem cells to create brand new white blood cells, essentially regenerating the entire immune system.

"It gives the 'OK' for stem cells to go ahead and begin proliferating and rebuild the entire system," said Prof Valter Longo, Professor of Gerontology and the Biological Sciences at the University of California. "And the good news is that the body got rid of the parts of the system that might be damaged or old, the inefficient parts, during the fasting. “Now, if you start with a system heavily damaged by chemotherapy or ageing, fasting cycles can generate, literally, a new immune system." Prolonged fasting forces the body to use stores of glucose and fat but also breaks down a significant portion of white blood cells.

During each cycle of fasting, this depletion of white blood cells induces changes that trigger stem cell-based regeneration of new immune system cells.

In trials humans were asked to regularly fast for between two and four days over a six-month period. Scientists found that prolonged fasting also reduced the enzyme PKA, which is linked to ageing and a hormone which increases cancer risk and tumour growth. "We could not predict that prolonged fasting would have such a remarkable effect in promoting stem cell-based regeneration of the hematopoietic system," added Prof Longo. "When you starve, the system tries to save energy, and one of the things it can do to save energy is to recycle a lot of the immune cells that are not needed, especially those that may be damaged," Dr Longo said.

"What we started noticing in both our human work and animal work is that the white blood cell count goes down with prolonged fasting. Then when you re-feed, the blood cells come back. So we started thinking, well, where does it come from?"

Fasting for 72 hours also protected cancer patients against the toxic impact of chemotherapy. "While chemotherapy saves lives, it causes significant collateral damage to the immune system. The results of this study suggest that fasting may mitigate some of the harmful effects of chemotherapy," said co-author Tanya Dorff, assistant professor of clinical medicine at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center and Hospital. "More clinical studies are needed, and any such dietary intervention should be undertaken only under the guidance of a physician.” "We are investigating the possibility that these effects are applicable to many different systems and organs, not just the immune system," added Prof Longo. However, some British experts were sceptical of the research. Dr Graham Rook, emeritus professor of immunology at University College London, said the study sounded "improbable". Chris Mason, Professor of Regenerative Medicine at UCL, said: “There is some interesting data here. It sees that fasting reduces the number and size of cells and then re-feeding at 72 hours saw a rebound. “That could be potentially useful because that is not such a long time that it would be terribly harmful to someone with cancer.
“But I think the most sensible way forward would be to synthesize this effect with drugs. I am not sure fasting is the best idea. People are better eating on a regular basis.”
Dr Longo added: “There is no evidence at all that fasting would be dangerous while there is strong evidence that it is beneficial. “I have received emails from hundreds of cancer patients who have combined chemo with fasting, many with the assistance of the oncologists. “Thus far the great majority have reported doing very well and only a few have reported some side effects including fainting and a temporary increase in liver markers. Clearly we need to finish the clinical trials, but it looks very promising.”

Calorie Restriction Enhances T-Cell–Mediated Immune Response in Adult Overweight Men and Women.
The Journals of Gerontology. Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 2009 64A(11):1107-1113 Tanvir Ahmed1,2, Sai Krupa Das3,4, Julie K. Golden3, Edward Saltzman3,4, Susan B. Roberts3,4 and Simin Nikbin Meydani1,4,5,  1 Nutritional Immunology Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts,  2 Present address: International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, GPO Box 128, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh 3 Energy Metabolism Laboratory, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 4 Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy 5 Department of Pathology, Sackler Graduate School of Biochemical Sciences, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts

Calorie restriction (CR) enhances immune response and prolongs life span in animals. However, information on the applicability of these results to humans is limited. T-cell function declines with age. We examined effects of CR on T-cell function in humans. Forty-six overweight, nonobese participants aged 20–42 years were randomly assigned to 30% or 10% CR group for 6 months. Delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH), T-cell proliferation (TP), and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) productions were determined before and after CR. DTH and TP to T-cell mitogens were increased in both groups over baseline (p  .019). However, number of positive responses to DTH antigens (p = .016) and TP to anti-CD3 reached statistical significance only after 30% CR (p = .001). Lipopolysaccharide-stimulated PGE2 was reduced in both groups but reached statistical significance after 30% CR (p  .029). These results, for the first time, show that 6-month CR in humans improves T-cell function.


Progression of intestinal secretory immunoglobulin A and the condition of the patients during naturopathic therapy and fasting therapy [Article in German]
Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Naturheilkd. 2001 Dec;8(6):346-53.
Beer AM, Ruffer A, Balles J, Ostermann T.
Modellabteilung fur Naturheilkunde, Klinik Blankenstein, Hattingen.
BACKGROUND: In clinical observations it was noticed that patients who have been treated with naturopathic methods - especially with the treatment of heal fasting - experience a stabilization of their immune system. The immune system stands in close relation to the intestinal flora and influences the condition of the patient. QUESTION: For this reason the influence of a 3-week in-hospital naturopathic therapy - among others a heal-fasting therapy -, a corresponding follow-up on the intestine-associated immune system as well as the condition of the patients have been examined. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Classical naturopathic treatments based on standardized therapy concepts were applied. The patients (n = 55) showed different kinds of basic diseases, whereof in 56% of the cases the patients suffered of diseases of the skeleton, the muscles, and the connective tissue. The patients got a 3-week standardized high-quality nutrition or they took part in a juice-modified fasting therapy. The state of the local endogenous defense system within the intestine was measured by the concentration of the secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) in the feces of the patients. A positive criterion was a sIgA concentration in the stool of under 0.5 mg/g. Additionally the judgement of the patients concerning their own condition ('quality of life') was determined by the condition scale. RESULTS: It was shown that the content of the sIgA within the stool was increased during the course of the in-hospital stay, in the complete population of patients as well as in the different subgroups 'with heal-fasting' and 'without heal-fasting'. Even in the follow-up analysis it could be observed that 3 months after the treatment the content of secretory IgA in the stool of all groups was between 0.78 and 0.89 mg/g. This value was significantly higher than the starting values. The most intensive effects concerning the change of sIgA were measured within the group of the patients who performed heal fasting (epsilon > 1.0). Aside from the increase of the secretory IgA, a mediocre improvement of the condition of the patients within the pre-post comparison could be noticed, but no correlation between the secretory IgA values and the values concerning the condition was found. CONCLUSION: A 3-week in-hospital therapy with classical naturopathic treatments (but especially the application of the heal-fasting therapy) leads to a significant improvement of the immune condition of the intestine and consequently of the whole organism. The improving effect lasts beyond the stay in hospital.
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