It is clear that nucleotides are involved in many aspects of cellular metabolism, growth and immune function. Their precise mechanism of action remains to be fully understood.
The addition of nucleotides to infant formula milk and more recently to enteral feeds clearly demonstrates a consensus in the scientific community that nucleotides are essential for normal functioning of the body.
Dietary nucleotides appear to be conditionally essential under conditions of immunological stress, during periods of rapid growth or insufficient intake and for disease or injury to the gastrointestinal tract. Much of this research has been carried out in animals, but there are encouraging results from human trials of enteral feeds and these should be continued and expanded to further improve our understanding of the function of nucleotides in disease states.
More research is needed into dietary sources of nucleotides and how these are metabolised by the human body. Furthermore, a greater understanding is required of what effects, if any, age, health and disease has upon nucleotide status and nucleotide requirements. This understanding may help identify who could specifically benefit from increased dietary and/or supplemental nucleotides and forms an exciting expansion of our ever evolving understanding of nutrition and health.