Fifteen undernourished infants and children were studied for opsonic activity of plasma, and for phagocytosis and intracellular bactericidal capacity of polymorphonuclear leucocytes. The opsonic activity was slightly increased and there was a significant decrease in bacterial killing by polymorphs of malnourished individuals compared with healthy controls. Phagocytosis was comparable in the 2 groups. In 3 patients, the impairment of bacterial killing was reversed to normal on recovery from nutritional deficit. It is suggested that this may be one possible mechanism of infection-nutrition interaction.
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