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J Nutr. 2007 Sep;137(9):2080-6.

Low dietary boron reduces parasite (nematoda) survival and alters cytokine profiles but the infection modifies liver minerals in mice.

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  • 1Institute of Parasitology, McGill University (Macdonald Campus), Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada H9X 3V9.


Although boron (B) is an essential trace mineral, any interactions that it may have with gastrointestinal (GI) nematode infections are unknown. This study explored whether low dietary B would: 1) alter survival or reproduction of Heligmosomoides bakeri (Nematoda); 2) modify the resulting cytokine response to this parasitic infection; or 3) influence liver mineral concentrations in the infected host. Balb/c mice were fed either a low-B (0.2 microg B/g), marginal (2.0 microg B/g), or control (12.0 microg B/g) diet. Diets commenced 3 wk before a primary infection and were fed for 4 wk (primary infection protocol) and 8-9 wk (challenge infection protocol). Mice were killed 6 d post-primary infection (d6ppi), or dewormed then reinfected (challenge infection protocol) and killed 14 or 21 d post-challenge infection (d14pci or d21pci, respectively). Low and marginal dietary B intakes impaired survival of the parasite, reduced intestinal inflammation, and modulated a broad range of cytokines and chemokines despite similar liver B concentrations in diet groups. Compared with control mice, cytokine production was lower following low and marginal B intakes at d6ppi but was elevated at d21pci. Serum alkaline phosphatase was higher at d6ppi than at d14pci and d21pci. Compared with d14pci, liver zinc, iron, and B concentrations were reduced at d21pci when worm numbers were also lower, whereas concentrations of sodium, potassium, molybdenum, chromium, and sulfur were higher. This study shows that parasite survival and cytokine and inflammatory responses are modified by dietary B intake but indicates that a GI nematode infection alters liver mineral concentrations.

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