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Vitamins and respiratory disease: antioxidant micronutrients in pulmonary health and disease

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2007

Frank J. Kelly
Lung Biology, School of Health & Life Sciences, King's College, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK
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The lungs are continually exposed to relatively-high O2 tensions, and as such, in comparison with other organs, they represent a unique tissue for the damaging effects of oxidant attack. At particular times during a lifetime this every day challenge may increase exponentially. The first oxidative insult occurs at birth, when cells are exposed to a sudden 5-fold increase in O2 concentration. Thereafter, the human lung, from infancy through to old age, can be subjected to deleterious oxidative events as a consequence of inhaling environmental pollutants or irritants, succumbing to several pulmonary diseases (including infant and adult respiratory distress syndromes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis and cancer) and receiving treatment for these diseases. The present paper will review the concept that consumption of a healthy diet and the consequent ability to establish and then maintain adequate micronutrient antioxidant concentrations in the lung throughout life, and following various oxidative insults, could prevent or reduce the incidence of oxidant-mediated respiratory diseases. Furthermore, the rationale, practicalities and complexities of boosting the antioxidant pool of the respiratory-tract lining fluid in diseases in which oxidative stress is actively involved, by direct application to the lung v. dietary modification, in order to achieve a therapeutic effect will be discussed.

Symposium on ‘Micronutrients through the life cycle’
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005


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