It's Official Now - Overeating Weakens Your Immune System

Published: 02nd April 2016 06:04 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2016 06:04 AM   |  A+A-


HYDERABAD: It has been considered since time immemorial that good eating habits, i.e. by avoiding overeating, one could stay away from health issues. In what is being referred to as a path-breaking research finding, a group of researchers from across the world have come up with a study validating the traditional knowledge that by not overeating, one could avoid several diseases.

While a complete understanding of how fasting practised in many traditions or caloric restrictions (CR) benefit our health system has been unknown so far, the  study has found that limiting nutrients could be a great booster of vaccine-induced immunity and control intestinal inflammation.

The findings that caloric restrictions boost immunity and control intestinal inflammation was published by a group of researchers headed by Dr Bali Pulendran from Emory University, Atlanta, USA in collaboration with Dr Nooruddin Khan, assistant professor in the department of biotechnology and bioinformatics, University of Hyderabad in international journal ‘Nature’ on March 16, according to Dr Pallu Reddanna, dean, school of life sciences, UOH. 

Speaking at a press conference here on Friday, Dr Khan said that earlier, while studying immune responses to the yellow fever vaccine (one of the most effective in the history) through genome-wide “systems biology” approaches, a molecule called GCN2 was identified as gene whose activation in key immune cells was found to be a sign of a robust, protective immune response.

The gene is a known metabolic sensor involved in sensing amino acid starvation and found to regulate the process of autophagy, a response to starvation or stress within cells, said Dr Khan. The same had been published earlier in the journal,’Science’, (with Dr Khan as joint first author and lead in command from UoH) which categorically showed that GCN2 is critical to induction of immunity to the yellow fever vaccine, and suggested that vaccine additives (called adjuvants) that are effective in stimulating GCN2 and autophagy would be especially potent in stimulating long-lasting immunity.

Recently, Dr Pulendran, in collaboration with Dr Khan, has shown that a low-protein diet or drugs that mimic its effects on immune cells could be tools for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. This work has been published in the journal, ‘Nature’, on March 16, 2016.

“We are attempting to dig deeper into the biology of nutrient sensing and its immunological regulations during infectious diseases such as TB, dengue and HIV,” said Dr Khan.

His laboratory at the UoH has been using these molecules as an adjuvant to engineer vaccines against challenging infections such as HIV, tuberculosis and dengue.


A low-protein diet or drugs that mimic its effects on immune cells could be tools for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.

More from Hyderabad.


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