Men with low vitamin A stores respond adequately to primary yellow fever and secondary tetanus toxoid vaccination

Shaikh M. Ahmad, Marjorie J. Haskell, Rubhana Raqib, Charles B. Stephensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Current recommendations for vitamin A intake and liver stores (0.07 μmol/g) are based on maintaining normal vision. Higher levels may be required for maintaining normal immune function. The objective of this study was to assess the relationship between total body vitamin A stores in adult men and measures of adaptive immune function. We conducted an 8-wk residential study among 36 healthy Bangladeshi men with low vitamin A stores. Subjects received a standard diet and were randomized in a double-blind fashion to receive vitamin A (240 mg) or placebo during wk 2 and 3. Subjects received Yellow Fever Virus (YFV) and tetanus toxoid (TT) vaccines during wk 5. Vitamin A stores were estimated by isotopic dilution during wk 8. Vaccine-specific lymphocyte proliferation, cytokine production, and serum antibody responses were evaluated before and after vaccination. Vitamin A supplementation increased YFV- and TT-specific lymphocyte proliferation and YFV-specific interleukin (IL)-5, IL-10, and tumor necrosis factor-a production but inhibited development of a TT-specific IL-10 response. Both groups developed protective antibody responses to both vaccines. Some responses correlated positively with vitamin A stores. These findings indicate that the currently recommended vitamin A intake is sufficient to sustain a protective response to YFV and TT vaccination. However, YFV-specific lymphocyte proliferation, some cytokine responses, and neutralizing antibody were positively associated with liver vitamin A stores <0.084 μmol/g. Such increases may enhance vaccine protection but raise the question of whether immune-mediated chronic diseases may by exacerbated by high-level dietary vitamin A.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2276-2283
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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