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Folic acid deficiency and neutrophil dysfunction

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      Abstract

      Polymorphonuclear leukocyte functions were studied in 92 patients with protein-calorie malnutrition. Serum folic acid levels were higher than 3 ng/ml in 38 patients and 3 ng/ml or less in 54 patients. Significant differences were found between these two groups of patients with regard to phagocytosis (81.5 ± 1.9 versus 69.2 ± 2.0 percent, p < 0.001) and bactericidal ability (90.6 ± 1.1 versus 84.5 ± 2.3 percent, p < 0.05). Correction of folic acid deficiency in 22 patients was associated with recovery of normal phagocytosis (p < 0.001) but not bactericidal function. Adding folic acid to the serum of eight patients also restored normal phagocytic function (p < 0.001). A correlation was found in vivo and in vitro between changes over time in folic acid levels and in phagocytosis.
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