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Additional writing sessions were held September 18–19, 1996, January 29–30, 1997, and March 13–14, 1997.

The Committee on Military Nutrition Research (CMNR) was tasked with assessing the current state of knowledge about immune function to ascertain how military stresses (including food deprivation) could impact unfavorably upon these functions and to evaluate ongoing research efforts by USARIEM scientists to study immune status in Special Forces troops. The committee was asked to include in their response the answers to the following five questions: The speakers invited to the workshop were also asked to address these questions in their presentations and in their chapters.

  1. What are the significant military hazards or operational settings most likely to compromise immune function in soldiers?
  2. What methods for assessment of immune function are most appropriate in military nutrition laboratory research and what methods are most appropriate for field research?
  3. The proinflammatory cytokines have been proposed to decrease lean body mass, mediate thermoregulatory mechanisms, and increase resistance to infectious disease by reducing metabolic activity in a way that is similar to the reduction seen in malnutrition and other catabolic conditions. Interventions to sustain immune function can alter the actions, nutritional costs, and potential changes in the levels of proinflammatory cytokines. What are the benefits and risks to soldiers of such interventions?
  4. What are the important safety and regulatory considerations in the testing and use of nutrients or dietary supplements to sustain immune function under field conditions?
  5. Are there areas of investigation for the military nutrition research program that are likely to be fruitful in the sustainment of immune function in stressful conditions? Specifically, is there likely to be enough value added to justify adding to operational rations or including an additional component?

Conclusions

  • Many stressful conditions encountered by military personnel have immunological consequences.
  • The military's use of prophylactic immunization provides sufficient benefits beyond risk to warrant continued development.
  • Pharmacological agents such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and glucocorticoids, which modulate the effects of cytokines, can be used to minimize signs and symptoms of cytokine-induced acute-phase reactions and the nutrient losses that accompany them.
  • Evidence to suggest that the administration of recombinant cytokines can modulate immune function in a desirable manner is limited.


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