Evaluation of possible causes of delayed hypersensitivity impairment in cancer patients.

L. Dominioni, R. Dionigi, P. Dionigi, S. Nazari, G. S. Fossati, U. Prati, C. Tibaldeschi, F. Pavesi

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The separate roles of malnutrition, advanced age, and stage of tumor growth as causes of impairment of delayed hypersensitivity response (DHR) was studied in 111 patients with solid tumors and in 56 nonneoplastic control patients matched for age, anatomical site of disease, degree of illness, and nutritional status. Pretreatment DHR to recall antigens (tuberculin, Candida, streptokinase-streptodornase, trichophyton) and to dinitrochlorobenzene in cancer patients with 9% anergic, 43% hypoergic, and 48% normoergic; the distribution of DHR in controls was not significantly different. In cancer patients, the serum albumin level showed an inverse correlation with the stage of tumor (p less than 0.01) and a positive correlation with the DHR (p less than 0.001); the serum albumin level was also in the controls positively correlated with the DHR (p less than 0.01), indicating that malnutrition in neoplastic or benign disease may cause depression of DHR. In well-nourished controls, age was inversely correlated with DHR (p less than 0.05), showing that aging itself may be another relevant cause of depression of DHR. The results of this study indicate that DHR in patients with solid tumors is similar to the DHR of nonneoplastic patients if matched for age, sex, and nutritional status. DHR impairment in cancer patients appears to be caused mainly by aging and by malnutrition due to the advanced progression of cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)300-306
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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