In studies with mice, Penn State researchers have shown that a combination of retinoic acid -- a product the body makes naturally from vitamin A -- and PIC, a synthetic immunity booster, significantly elevates the immune system response to a tetanus shot.
Dr. A. Catharine Ross, who holds the Dorothy Foehr Huck Chair in Nutrition at Penn State, directed the study. She says, "There aren’t very many examples of using nutrition to improve immune response. These results show that a natural product of vitamin A can have an important role in regulating immunity and, when administered along with PIC, might be a potentially powerful nutritional-immunological assist in vaccination."
The researchers reported their findings today (Monday, Sept. 12) in the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The paper is "The anti-tetanus immune response of neonatal mice is augmented by retinoic acid combined with polyriboinosinic:polyribocytidylic acid." The first author is Yifan Ma, doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Integrative Biosciences, the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the Huck Institute for Life Sciences.
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