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NIAID Study Identifies Immune Sensors of Malnutrition
NIAID scientists describe how the immune system responds to malnutrition by adjusting the types of immune cells, called innate lymphoid cells (ILC), in the gastrointestinal tract. The study appears in the January 23, 2014, online issue ofScience.
In a mouse model of vitamin A deficiency, there is an expansion of ILC2 cells that boosts immune defenses against nutrient-depleting helminth, or parasitic worm, infections. Compared to nourished mice, the malnourished ones were better protected. Contrary to common belief, this work shows that nutrient deficiency does not suppress the entire immune system.