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Leucine and methionine deficiency impairs immunity to gastrointestinal parasites during lactation

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Panagiotis Sakkas, Professor Ilias Kyriazakis


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Lactating rats reinfected with Nippostrongylus brasiliensis fed low-crude protein (CP) foods show reduced lactational performance and less resistance to parasites compared with their high-CP counterparts. Here, we hypothesised that feeding high-CP foods deficient in specific essential amino acids (AA) would result in similar penalties. Second-parity lactating rats, immunised with 1600 N. brasiliensis infective larvae before mating, were fed foods with either 250 (high protein; HP) or 150 (low protein; LP) g CP/kg, or were HP deficient in either leucine (HP-Leu) or methionine (HP-Met). On day 1 of lactation, litter size was standardised at twelve pups. On day 2, dams were either reinfected with 1600 N. brasiliensis larvae or sham-infected with PBS. Dams and litters were weighed daily until either day 8 or 11, when worm burdens, and inflammatory cells and systemic levels of N. brasiliensis-specific Ig isotypes were assessed. Data from five out of sixteen HP-Met rats were omitted due to very high levels of food refusals from parturition onwards. Relative to feeding HP foods, feeding LP, HP-Met and HP-Leu foods reduced dam weight gain and, to a lesser extent, litter weight gain, and increased the number of worm eggs in the colon, indicative of a reduction in resistance to parasites. However, only feeding LP and HP-Leu foods resulted in increased worm numbers, while none of the feeding treatments affected systemic Ig, mast and goblet cells, and eosinophil numbers. The present results support the view that resistance to parasites during lactation may be sensitive to specific essential AA scarcity.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sakkas P, Jones LA, Houdijk JG, Athanasiadou S, Knox DP, Kyriazakis I

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Nutrition

Year: 2013

Volume: 109

Issue: 2

Pages: 273-282

Print publication date: 09/05/2012

ISSN (print): 0007-1145

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2662

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0007114512000931

PubMed id: 22571601


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