Effects of Age and Dietary β‐Carotene on Immunological Variables in Dogs Academic Article uri icon


  • beta-Carotene is a naturally occurring carotenoid reported to have health-promoting effects in several species. Advancing age is known to have a negative impact on various immune variables in several species. This study was conducted in order to assess the effect of age on immune response in dogs and to determine whether beta-carotene is able to reverse this age-associated decline. To test this hypothesis, young and old dogs (n = 36) were fed either a control diet or experimental diets containing supplemental beta-carotene for 2-month periods. Age significantly (P < .05) lowered CD4+ T cell populations (47.2% versus 33.7%; young-control versus old-control, respectively) and beta-carotene restored percent distributions in old dogs to nonsignificance versus younger controls (41.0%). T cell proliferation was lower in old dogs (30,254 +/- 2,248 versus 14,811 +/- 2,497 cCPM; young-control versus old-control, respectively; P < .05), and beta-carotene supplementation significantly improved responses in this age group (21,329 +/- 2,275 cCPM). Although B cell proliferation was depressed with age (17,967 +/- 1,384 versus 7,535 +/- 1,469 cCPM; young-control versus old-control, respectively; P < .05), beta-carotene supplementation improved B cell proliferation in young dogs (23,500 +/- 1,339 cCPM). Old dogs displayed lower delayed-type hypersensitivity test (DTH) responses versus younger controls to both phytohemagglutinin-P (PHA; 11.1 +/- 0.95 versus 7.57 +/- 1.15 mm; young-control versus old-control, respectively; P < .05) and sheep red blood cell (RBC; 9.12 +/- 0.62 versus 8.08 +/- 0.75 mm; young-control versus old-control, respectively; P < .10). beta-Carotene improved these responses, mostly within the first 24-48 hours after injection. In summary, older dogs have lower immunological responses compared with younger controls. beta-Carotene supplementation significantly restored immune responses in older dogs when compared with their age-matched controls and younger counterparts.

altmetric score

  • 3

author list (cited authors)

  • Massimino, S., Kearns, R. J., Loos, K. M., Burr, J., Park, J. S., Chew, B., Adams, S., & Hayek, M. G.

citation count

  • 19

publication date

  • November 2003