Nutriceuticals and the antiviral properties
Erika Spada, Giorgio Costagliola, Giulia Nuzzi, Pasquale Comberiati, Maria Elisa Di Cicco, Diego Peroni
1U.O. di Pediatria Universitaria, AOUP; Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, sezione di Pediatria, Università di Pisa
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the possibility of using some nutritional supplements with antimicrobial and immunomodulating activity in the prevention and treatment of viral infections, particularly in the respiratory system. The antiviral and immunomodulating role of vitamin D, zinc, lactoferrin, vitamin A and polyphenols (in particular, resveratrol) has been the subject of both clinical and preclinical studies, which have allowed both to define the properties of these molecules and, in some cases, to increase understanding of the mechanisms underlying the regulation of the immune response. The actions of these nutraceuticals on the immune system are extremely complex, and include both direct interactions with cellular elements and interference with the synthesis and biological action of its main soluble mediators, while the antiviral properties derive both from direct interference with the replication of pathogens that from the ability to stimulate the immune and adaptive response against the virus itself. Despite the marked increase in the understanding of the mechanisms of action of these molecules, clinical evidence is still limited, therefore making further studies necessary to define more specifically their clinical applications in the management of respiratory infections.