Oxidative Stress and the Immune System


Manfred Kopf and his team of research scientists have shown that higher doses of antioxidants like vitamin E can reduce the stress on immune cells. Dr. Kopf, a professor at ETH Zurich’s Institute of Molecular Health Sciences, have identified a phenomenon that explains the effects of oxidative stress on immune cells. Whenever a foreign body such as a virus or other pathogen enters our bodies, a certain class of immune cells – the T cells – jump into action, proliferating rapidly. One sub-class of these cells, the CD8+ T cells, eliminate the virus by killing cells it has infected. Other T cells, known as CD4+ T cells, coordinate the immune response to all kinds of pathogens. These are the generals in the immune system’s army.

Immune response does not work efficiently if significant oxidative stress is damaging the T cells. Researchers able to save the immune cells from cell death by mixing high dosages of vitamin E into animals food. We can do the same with hydrogen.

When enough antioxidants, to protect the T cells’ cell membranes from damage, were pumped into rats systems their T cells could multiply and successfully fend off the viral infection. “We are the first to demonstrate that oxidative stress causes immune cells to suffer the same type of death as cancer cells,”Kopf said.