Malnutrition and humoral immunity: short-term acute nutritional deprivation

Surgery. 1985 Oct;98(4):769-76.


The effects of short-term acute nutritional deprivation and refeeding on immune function was investigated in rats. Animals previously sensitized to keyhole-limpet hemocyanin were starved for 72 hours and refed for 7 days. Recall skin testing with keyhole-limpet hemocyanin and immunization with tetanus toxoid (TT) were used to assess delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) and humoral immune responses. DTH was maximally depressed late, after refeeding had begun. Anti-TT responses were depressed early during starvation. Neither DTH nor anti-TT responses had returned to normal after a period of refeeding sufficient to restore weight. The data indicate that short-term acute nutritional deprivation may contribute to acquired immunodeficiency in patients undergoing surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibody Formation
  • Body Weight
  • Food*
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / immunology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Skin Tests
  • Starvation*
  • Tetanus Toxoid / immunology
  • Time Factors


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Tetanus Toxoid