Vitamin B6 supplementation increases immune responses in critically ill patients

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2006 Oct;60(10):1207-13. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602439. Epub 2006 May 3.


Objective: To investigate whether vitamin B6 supplementation has a beneficial effect on immune responses in critically ill patients.

Design: A single-blind intervention study.

Setting: The study was performed at the Taichung Veterans General Hospital, the central part of Taiwan.

Subjects: Fifty-one subjects who stayed over 14 days in the intensive care unit completed the study. Subjects were not treated with any vitamin supplement before the intervention.

Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups, control (n = 20), a daily injection of 50 mg vitamin B-6 (B6 -50, n=15), or 100 mg vitamin B-6 (B6 -100, n = 16) for 14 days.

Main outcome measures: Plasma pyridoxal 5'-phosphate (PLP), pyridoxal (PL), 4-pyridoxic acid (4-PA), erythrocyte alanine (EALT-AC) and aspartate (EAST-AC) aminotransaminase activity coefficient, and urinary 4-PA were measured. The levels of serum albumin, hemoglobin, hematocrit, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) and immune responses (white blood cell, neutrophils, total lymphocytes count (TLC), T- (CD3) and B-(CD19) lymphocytes, T-helper (CD4) and suppressor (CD8) cells) were determined.

Results: Plasma PLP, PL, 4-PA and urinary 4-PA concentrations significantly increased in two treated groups. T-lymphocyte and T-helper cell numbers and the percentage of T-suppressor cell significantly increased on day 14 in the B6 -50 group. Total lymphocyte count, T-helper and T-suppressor cell numbers, the percentage of T-lymphocyte cells and T-suppressors significantly increased in the B6 -100 group at the 14th day. There were no significant changes with respect to immune responses in the control group over 14 days.

Conclusions: A large dose of vitamin B6 supplementation (50 or 100 mg/day) could compensate for the lack of responsiveness of plasma PLP to vitamin B6 intake, and further increase immune response of critically ill patients.

Sponsorship: This study was supported by the National Science Council, Taiwan, Republic of China (NSC-92-2320-B-040-026).

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / metabolism
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / metabolism
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Critical Illness*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Erythrocytes / enzymology
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Male
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / blood*
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate / immunology
  • Pyridoxic Acid / blood
  • Pyridoxic Acid / urine
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Vitamin B 6 / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin B 6 / immunology*


  • Serum Albumin
  • Pyridoxic Acid
  • Pyridoxal Phosphate
  • Vitamin B 6
  • C-Reactive Protein
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase