Vitamin A and immunity to viral, bacterial and protozoan infections

Proc Nutr Soc. 1999 Aug;58(3):719-27. doi: 10.1017/s0029665199000944.


Studies in animal models and cell lines show that vitamin A and related retinoids play a major role in immunity, including expression of mucins and keratins, lymphopoiesis, apoptosis, cytokine expression, production of antibody, and the function of neutrophils, natural killer cells, monocytes or macrophages, T lymphocytes and B lymphocytes. Recent clinical trials suggest that vitamin A supplementation reduces morbidity and mortality in different infectious diseases, such as measles, diarrhoeal disease, measles-related pneumonia, human immunodeficiency virus infection and malaria. Immune responses vary considerably during different infections, and the available data suggest that the modulation of immune function by vitamin A may also vary widely, depending on the type of infection and immune responses involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Bacterial Infections / prevention & control
  • Diarrhea / microbiology
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Malaria / immunology*
  • Malaria / prevention & control
  • Measles / immunology*
  • Measles / prevention & control
  • Vitamin A / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin A / physiology*
  • Vitamin A / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin A