Vitamin A deficiency impairs vaccine-elicited gastrointestinal immunity

J Immunol. 2011 Aug 15;187(4):1877-83. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1101248. Epub 2011 Jul 15.


Vitamin A deficiency is highly prevalent in much of the developing world, where vaccination programs are of paramount importance to public health. However, the impact of vitamin A deficiency on the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of vaccines has not been defined previously. In this article, we show that the vitamin A metabolite retinoic acid is critical for trafficking of vaccine-elicited T lymphocytes to the gastrointestinal mucosa and for vaccine protective efficacy in mice. Moderate vitamin A deficiency abrogated Ag-specific T lymphocyte trafficking to the gastrointestinal tract, gastrointestinal cellular immune responses, and protection against a mucosal challenge following immunization with a recombinant adenovirus vaccine vector. Oral vitamin A supplementation as well as retinoic acid administration fully restored the mucosal immune responses and vaccine protective efficacy. These data suggest that oral vitamin A supplementation may be important for optimizing the success of vaccines against HIV-1 and other mucosal pathogens in the developing world, highlighting a critical relationship between host nutritional status and vaccine efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • AIDS Vaccines / immunology*
  • AIDS Vaccines / pharmacology
  • Adenoviridae*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / immunology
  • Gastric Mucosa / immunology*
  • Immunity, Mucosal / drug effects
  • Immunity, Mucosal / genetics
  • Immunity, Mucosal / immunology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / genetics
  • Vitamin A Deficiency / immunology*


  • AIDS Vaccines