COVID-19: Is there a role for immunonutrition in obese patient?

Laura Di Renzo, Paola Gualtieri, Francesca Pivari, Laura Soldati, Alda Attinà, Claudia Leggeri, Giulia Cinelli, Maria Grazia Tarsitano, Giovanna Caparello, Elena Carrano, Giuseppe Merra, Alberto Maria Pujia, Roberta Danieli, Antonino De Lorenzo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

On December 12, 2019 a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) emerged in Wuhan, China, triggering a pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome in humans (COVID-19). Today, the scientific community is investing all the resources available to find any therapy and prevention strategies to defeat COVID-19. In this context, immunonutrition can play a pivotal role in improving immune responses against viral infections. Immunonutrition has been based on the concept that malnutrition impairs immune function. Therefore, immunonutrition involves feeding enriched with various pharmaconutrients (Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin C, Arginine, Glutamine, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin, E and Vitamin D) to modulate inflammatory responses, acquired immune response and to improve patient outcomes. In literature, significant evidences indicate that obesity, a malnutrition state, negatively impacts on immune system functionality and on host defense, impairing protection from infections. Immunonutrients can promote patient recovery by inhibiting inflammatory responses and regulating immune function. Immune system dysfunction is considered to increase the risk of viral infections, such as SARS-CoV-2, and was observed in different pathological situations. Obese patients develop severe COVID-19 sequelae, due to the high concentrations of TNF-α, MCP-1 and IL-6 produced in the meantime by visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue and by innate immunity. Moreover, leptin, released by adipose tissue, helps to increase inflammatory milieu with a dysregulation of the immune response. Additionally, gut microbiota plays a crucial role in the maturation, development and functions of both innate and adaptive immune system, as well as contributing to develop obese phenotype. The gut microbiota has been shown to affect lung health through a vital crosstalk between gut microbiota and lungs, called the “gut-lung axis”. This axis communicates through a bi-directional pathway in which endotoxins, or microbial metabolites, may affect the lung through the blood and when inflammation occurs in the lung, this in turn can affect the gut microbiota. Therefore, the modulation of gut microbiota in obese COVID-19 patients can play a key role in immunonutrition therapeutic strategy. This umbrella review seeks to answer the question of whether a nutritional approach can be used to enhance the immune system’s response to obesity in obese patients affected by COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish
Article number415
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Volume18
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2020

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Gut microbiota
  • Immune system
  • Immunonutrition
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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