Overview of nutrients with their functions and effects

 
 
 

Commonly used immunonutrients and their key functions
 

NutrientCommentsKey functions or effects
Arginine1Endogenous synthesis is decreased in trauma and sepsis Precursor of polyamines and nucleic acids

Precursor of amino acids involved in connective tissue synthesis

Precursor of nitric oxide

Secretagogue for growth hormone, prolactin, and insulin

Increases number of T cells and enhances T cell function

Improves wound healing

Glutamine2Most prevalent free amino acid in the human body

Synthesised mainly in skeletal muscle

Catabolic conditions are associated with marked decline in skeletal muscle and plasma concentrations

Precursor of purines, pyrimidines, nucleotides, and amino sugars

Precursor of glutathione

Major metabolic fuel for enterocytres, colonocytes, and immune cells

Most important substrate for renal ammoniagenesis

Protects structural and functional integrity of intestinal mucosa

Maintains or augments cellular immune functions, especially those associated with cell mediated immunity

Branched chain amino acidsPrecursor of glutamine
N-3 fatty acids3Readily incorporated into cell membranes, often at the expense of the n-6 arachidonic acid

Subject to ready peroxidation due to high degree of unsaturation (therefore important to maintain appropriate antioxidant status)

Antagonise production of inflammatory eicosanoids from the n-6 arachidonic acid

Precursor of alternative family of eicosanoids, often with only weak biological effects

Anti-inflammatory

Can prevent immunosuppression in some situations

Nucleotides4De novo synthesis is impaired in catabolic statesPrecursors of RNA and DNA

Protects structural and functional integrity of intestinal mucosa

Maintains or augments cellular immune functions, especially those associated with cell-mediated immunity