Vitamin A supplementation for infants and young children is recommended by WHO/UNICEF for countries with a high prevalence of vitamin A deficiency, and vitamin A is often administered at immunization contacts. Using a rat model, we tested whether supplementation with vitamin A or other retinoids at the time of neonatal immunization has prospective benefit in terms of preventing postweaning vitamin A deficiency and promoting antibody responses to T-cell dependent (TD) antigens administered at the neonatal stage and at the young adult stage. Rats were treated orally on postnatal d 6-8 with oil (placebo control), vitamin A, retinoic acid, or a combination of both (VARA) (n ≥ 12/group), and immunized with tetanus toxoid (TT) on d 7. The primary anti-TT response was measured on d 21, after which weanling rats were fed the vitamin A-deficient diet until ∼10 wk. At 8 wk, rats were immunized again with TT to determine the recall response, and with a novel TD antigen, keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), to assess the adult primary response. None of the supplements affected the plasma titer of anti-TT immunoglobulin G (IgG) on d 21 (P=0.25). However, neonatal-age supplementation with vitamin A or VARA at the young adult stage resulted in: >5 times higher anti-TT IgG recall response (P < 0.01); 5- and 9-times higher anti-KLH primary IgM and IgG responses, respectively (P < 0.05), and plasma retinol in the normal range (∼1.0 μmol/L vs. ∼0.35 μmol/L in retinoic acid-treated and control groups, P < 0.0001). We conclude that early-life supplementation with vitamin A or VARA can prospectively benefit the primary and recall antibody responses to TD antigens administered at the young adult stage, which may involve the maintenance of normal plasma retinol levels.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Nutrition and Dietetics