In this opinion paper, authors focus on the role of malnutrition in the elderly and its associations with immune health and suggest treating malnutrition could aid in decreasing the effects of COVID-19.
- Advanced age and comorbidities are associated with impaired nutritional status, a multifactorial etiology with associations including impaired cell-mediated immunity, decreased cytokine production, decreased phagocytic ability, and difficulties with antibody production.
- Nutrients including vitamins (A, B group, C, D, E) and minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron, copper, and magnesium have been shown to support both innate and adaptive immunity.
- Treatment of malnutrition has demonstrated improvement in immune responses within the aging population.
Therefore, the authors suggest that malnutrition could contribute to increased susceptibility and worse outcomes in aging patients with SARS-CoV-2, and further research is needed on the role of nutritional support and its ability to both identify high risk patients and to reduce mortality rates.
This review was posted on behalf of Lauren Albert, IU School of Medicine student, and reviewed by Dr. Kathleen Unroe, IU School of Medicine Associate Professor, geriatrician, and IU Center for Aging Research Scientist.
Bencivenga L, Rengo G, Varricchi G. Elderly at time of COronaVIrus disease 2019 (COVID-19): possible role of immunosenescence and malnutrition. GeroScience. Published online June 23, 2020:1-4. doi:10.1007/s11357-020-00218-9