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Neutrophils are immune cells preferentially targeted by retinoic acid in elderly subjects

Régine Minet-Quinard1*, M Chantal Farges1, Emilie Thivat1, Cécile Deleine1, Gilles Mayot1, Julius Brtko2, Josep Ribalta3, Brigitte Winklhofer-Roob47, Edmond Rock5 and M Paule Vasson16

Author Affiliations

1 Clermont University, Université d'Auvergne, EA4233, LB2MN, CRNH-A, BP10448, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

2 Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Vlarska 3, 833 06 Bratislava, Slovak Republic

3 Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Unitat de Recerca de Lipids i Arteriosclerosi, Reus, Spain

4 Karl-Franzens University, Institute of Molecular Biology, Biochemistry and Microbiology, Graz, Austria

5 INRA, Unité des Maladies Métaboliques et des Micronutriments (UMMM), CRNH, F-63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France

6 Centre Jean Perrin, Service de Nutrition, F-63000 Clermont-Ferrand, France

7 Human Nutrition & Metabolism Research and Training Center, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Karl-Franzens University, Graz, Austria

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Immunity & Ageing 2010, 7:10  doi:10.1186/1742-4933-7-10

Published: 20 August 2010



The immune system gradually deteriorates with age and nutritional status is a major factor in immunosenescence. Of the many nutritional factors implicated in age-related immune dysfunction, vitamin A may be a good candidate, since vitamin A concentrations classically decrease during aging whereas it may possess important immunomodulatory properties via its active metabolites, the retinoic acids. This prompted us to investigate the immune response induced by retinoids in adults and elderly healthy subjects. Before and after oral supplementation with 13cis retinoic acid (0.5 mg/kg/day during 28 days), whole blood cells were phenotyped, and functions of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and polymorphonuclear cells (PMN) were investigated by flow cytometry and ELISA tests.


In both young adults (n = 20, 25 ± 4 years) and older subjects (n = 20, 65 ± 4 years), retinoic acid supplementation had no effect on the distribution of leukocyte subpopulations or on the functions of PBMC (Il-2 and sIl-2R production, membrane expression of CD25). Concerning PMN, retinoic acid induced an increase in both spontaneous migration and cell surface expression of CD11b in the two different age populations, whereas bactericidal activity and phagocytosis remained unchanged.


We demonstrated that retinoic acid induces the same intensity of immune response between adult and older subjects, and more specifically affects PMN functions, i.e. adhesion and migration, than PBMC functions.