Background & aims: Nutrient status may affect the risk of microbial infections and play a role in modulating the immune response against such infections. The aim of this study was to determine whether serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] and serum fatty acids in infancy are associated with microbial infections by the age of 18 months.
Methods: Altogether 576 newborn infants from Trial to Reduce IDDM in the Genetically at Risk (TRIGR) born between 2002 and 2007 were included. The concentration of 25(OH)D vitamin and proportions of 26 fatty acids (presented as % of total fatty acids) were analyzed in cord blood serum and in sera taken at 6, 12, and 18 months of age. The cord blood samples and mean of 6-18-month values were used as exposures. Infections were detected by screening IgG antibodies against 10 microbes using enzyme immunoassay and antibodies against 6 coxsackievirus B serotypes by plaque neutralization assay in serum samples taken at 18 months of age.
Results: A higher proportion of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and especially long-chain n-3 PUFAs at birth and at the age of 6-18 months was associated with decreased risk of coxsackievirus B2 infection unadjusted and adjusted for region, case-control status, and maternal type 1 diabetes. Higher proportion of docosapentaenoic acid (DPA, 22:5 n-3) at birth was associated with a decreased risk of respiratory syncytial virus infection. 25(OH)D vitamin concentration was not consistently associated with the risk of infections. When only infected children were included docosahexaenoic acid (DHA, 22:6 n-3) and arachidonic acid (20:4 n-6) proportions were positively associated with IgG antibody levels against influenza A virus. 25(OH)D vitamin concentration showed an inverse association with rotavirus IgG levels among children with rotavirus seropositivity.
Conclusions: In young children with increased susceptibility to type 1 diabetes, long-chain n-3 PUFAs may influence the risk of viral infections and immune response against the infections. However, this association may depend on the type of virus suggesting virus-specific effects.
Keywords: Children; Coxsackie B Viruses; Fatty acids; Infections; Vitamin D.
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