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Summary We have observed previously that micronutrient supplementation ameliorated suppression of α-defensin expression during diarrhoea. However, how interactions between anti-microbial peptide (AMP) expression and diarrhoeal disease are altered by micronutrient supplementation remain unclear. Using oral vaccination as a model of intestinal infection, we measured changes in AMP expression during multiple micronutrient supplementation. In the first part, volunteers underwent duodenal jejunal biopsy before and at 1, 2, 4 or 7 days after administration of one of three live, attenuated oral vaccines against rotavirus, typhoid and enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli. In the second part, participants were randomized to receive a multiple micronutrient supplement or placebo for 6 weeks before undergoing intestinal biopsy, vaccination against typhoid and rebiopsy after 14 days. Expression of human alpha-defensin (HD)5, HD6, hBD1, hBD2 and LL-37 was measured by quantitative reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction. Taken together, the bacterial vaccines, but not rotavirus vaccine, reduced HD5 expression (P = 0·02, signed-rank test) and reduced LL-37 expression in seven of the eight individuals whose biopsies had expression prevaccination (P = 0·03). hBD2 was not detected. In the controlled trial, HD5 and HD6 expression after vaccination was lower [median ratio 0·5, interquartile range (IQR) = 0·07–2·2 and 0·58, IQR = 0·13–2·3, respectively] than before vaccination. There was no significant effect detected of micronutrient supplementation on expression of HD5, HD6, hBD1 or LL-37. We conclude that live attenuated bacterial vaccines, but not rotavirus vaccine, can reduce intestinal α-defensins, and typhoid vaccine reduced LL-37 expression. We found no evidence that micronutrient supplementation in the short term had any impact on anti-microbial peptide expression.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical and Experimental Immunology


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date





205 - 213