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Infect Immun. Jan 1997; 65(1): 197–202.
PMCID: PMC174576

Vitamin E-deficient diets enriched with fish oil suppress lethal Plasmodium yoelii infections in athymic and scid/bg mice.


Mice fed vitamin E-deficient diets containing omega-3 fatty acids survive infection with lethal Plasmodium yoelii. The current study sought to determine if antimalarial T- and B-cell responses were required for such dietary-mediated protection. In the first set of experiments, nu/nu mice (which lack alphabeta T-cell-receptor-positive T cells and do not produce antimalarial antibody) and nu/+ mice were fed casein-based diets containing 4% menhaden oil, with or without vitamin E supplementation, for 4 weeks prior to infection with lethal P. yoelii. All mice fed diets containing vitamin E developed fulminating parasitemias and quickly died, whereas both nu/nu and nu/+ mice fed diets deficient in vitamin E controlled their parasitemias for the first 18 days of infection. Thereafter, the nu/nu mice became anemic and died, whereas the nu/+ mice produced antimalarial antibodies and survived. In the second set of experiments, scid/scid.bg/bg mice (which lack B cells and alphabeta and gammadelta T cells and have reduced NK-cell activity) were fed the experimental diet for 6 weeks and then infected with the less virulent 17XNL strain of P. yoelii. Mice fed vitamin E-containing diets quickly died, whereas those fed the vitamin E-deficient diet survived without developing detectable parasitemias. Results from these experiments show that under prooxidant dietary conditions, mice were able to control and even survive malaria in the absence of malaria-primed T cells and antimalarial antibody. These results emphasize the importance of cellular oxidative processes in parasite elimination.

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Selected References

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