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Experimental Formula May Enhance Immunity in Elderly

Elderly have better immune response after vaccination, less fever, need fewer antibiotics

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly nursing home patients who drink an experimental nutritional formula rather than standard formula may have enhanced immune function, based on their response after flu vaccination, as well as less fever and less need for antibiotics, according to the results of a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Steven M. Wood, Ph.D., of Abbott Laboratories in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues assigned 92 elderly patients (at least 65 years old) living in a nursing home to either 240 mL per day of an experimental nutritional formula or standard liquid formula (EnsurePlus). The formulas were given for four weeks before and six weeks after an influenza vaccination.

The researchers found that although the mean antibody titers were similar in both groups, a significantly higher percentage of those receiving the experimental formula had high antibody titers against H1N1, the B/Hong Kong component, and H3N2 after vaccination. These patients also had significantly more influenza-activated lymphocytes and lower production of interleukin-6 and interleukin-10, and significantly fewer patients on the experimental formula were treated for fever or prescribed antibiotics.

"Seniors consuming the experimental nutritional formula demonstrated enhanced immune function, indicated by increased influenza vaccine response and lymphocyte activation, less fever, and fewer newly prescribed antibiotics than those consuming a standard ready-to-drink nutritional supplement," Wood and colleagues conclude.

The study was funded by the Ross Products Division of Abbott Laboratories.

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