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Open Access Research

Perturbation of cellular immune functions in cigarette smokers and protection by palm oil vitamin E supplementation

Zakiah Jubri14*, Azian Abdul Latif2, Abdul Gapor Md Top3 and Wan Zurinah Wan Ngah1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, The National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Medicine, The National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

3 Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia

4 Department of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, 50300, Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:2  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-2

Published: 3 January 2013

Abstract

Background

Cigarette smoke contains free radicals and an have adverse effect to the immune system. Supplementation of palm oil vitamin E (palmvitee), is known has antioxidant properties is thought to be beneficial for system immune protection against free radicals activity. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of palmvitee supplementation on immune response in smokers.

Methods

This study involved a group of smokers and nonsmokers who received 200 mg/day palmvitee and placebo for the control group. Blood samples were taken at 0, 12 and 24 weeks of supplementation. Plasma tocopherol and tocotrienol were determined by HPLC, lymphocyte proliferation by lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) and enumeration of lymphocytes T and B cells by flow cytometry. Statistical analysis was performed by Mann–Whitney U-test for non-parametric data distribution and correlation among the variables was examined by Spearman.

Results

Plasma tocopherol and tocotrienol were increased in vitamin E supplemented group as compared to placebo group. Urine cotinine levels and serum α1-antitrypsin were significantly higher in smokers compared to nonsmokers. Lymphocyte proliferation induced by PHA showed an increasing trend with palmvitee supplementation in both smokers and nonsmokers. Natural killer cells were decreased; CD4+ cells and B cells were increased in smokers compared to nonsmokers but were unaffected with vitamin E supplementation except in the percentage of B cells which were increased in nonsmokers supplemented palmvitee compared to placebo. CD4+/CD8+ ratio was increased in smokers compared to nonsmokers. The high TWBC count observed in smokers correlated with the increased CD4+ and B cells.

Conclusions

Smoking caused alterations in certain immune parameters and palmvitee supplementation tended to cause an increase in lymphocytes transformation test but had no effect on CD3+, CD4+, CD8+, NK cells and B cells except B cells percentage in nonsmokers.

Keywords:
Tocopherol; Tocotrienol; Cellular immune functions; Cigarette smoke