Micronutrient status and immune function in tuberculosis

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1990:587:59-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1990.tb00134.x.


Both macro- and micronutrients have been shown to affect resistance to tuberculosis, which is mediated by macrophages activated by T lymphocytes. Others have demonstrated inhibition of mycobacterial replication in macrophage cultures treated with vitamin D or retinoic acid. We examined the influence of dietary zinc and vitamin D on resistance to tuberculosis. Guinea pigs were fed diets containing varying levels of zinc or vitamin D, and infected 6 weeks later by the respiratory route with virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Zinc-deficient guinea pigs had fewer circulating T cells and reduced tuberculin (PPD) hypersensitivity. The response of peritoneal exudate macrophages to the lymphokine MIF was impaired. Zinc deprivation did not influence disease resistance in BCG-vaccinated or nonvaccinated animals. Vitamin D deficiency adversely affected the tuberculin reaction and ability to control the infection. Lymphocytes from vitamin D-deprived animals did not proliferate normally when cultured with PPD. A diet supplemented with vitamin D enhanced T cell responses to PPD in vivo. These results suggest that zinc and vitamin D status affect immunity to tuberculosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BCG Vaccine / pharmacology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Immunity / drug effects
  • Immunity / physiology
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Lymphocyte Activation / immunology
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / isolation & purification
  • Nutritional Status
  • Protein Deficiency / complications
  • Rosette Formation
  • Spleen / microbiology
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / etiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / prevention & control
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Zinc / deficiency
  • Zinc / physiology*


  • BCG Vaccine
  • Macrophage Migration-Inhibitory Factors
  • Vitamin D
  • Zinc