Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara Previously Published Works bannerUC Santa Barbara

Immune function in Amazonian horticulturalists



Amazonian populations are exposed to diverse parasites and pathogens, including protozoal, bacterial, fungal and helminthic infections. Yet much knowledge of the immune system is based on industrialised populations where these infections are relatively rare.


This study examines distributions and age-related differences in 22 measures of immune function for Bolivian forager-horticulturalists and US and European populations.

Subjects and methods

Subjects were 6338 Tsimane aged 0-90 years. Blood samples collected between 2004-2014 were analysed for 5-part blood differentials, C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and total immunoglobulins E, G, A and M. Flow cytometry was used to quantify naïve and non-naïve CD4 and CD8 T cells, natural killer cells, and B cells.


Compared to reference populations, Tsimane have elevated levels of most immunological parameters, particularly immunoglobulins, eosinophils, ESR, B cells, and natural killer cells. However, monocytes and basophils are reduced and naïve CD4 cells depleted in older age groups.


Tsimane ecology leads to lymphocyte repertoires and immunoglobulin profiles that differ from those observed in industrialised populations. These differences have consequences for disease susceptibility and co-vary with patterns of other life history traits, such as growth and reproduction.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View