Topic of the Month
1 February 2014
The task of the immune system is to protect the organism against harmful external influences, e.g., microorganisms. One consequence of an immune reaction is inflammation, which serves to remove foreign bodies or pathologically altered cells. However, if the immune reaction is not appropriate it may lead to undesirable effects, including increased vulnerability to infections if immune function is diminished, or allergies, autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation in the case of hyperfunction. To fulfill its many and various protective and signaling functions, the immune system relies on the adequate availability of micronutrients. Potential deficiencies can affect both unspecific (innate) and specific (acquired) immunity.