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Int J Parasitol. 1996 Nov;26(11):1151-67.

Implications of nutrition for the ability of ruminants to withstand gastrointestinal nematode infections.

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  • 1Animal and Veterinary Sciences Group, Lincoln University, Canterbury, New Zealand. vanhoutm@lincoln.ac.nz


Resistance and resilience of the ruminant host to gastrointestinal (GI) parasitic nematode infections are influenced by many factors, including nutrition. This review examines the effects of host nutrition on the ability of ruminants to withstand GI nematode infections. Firstly the effects of infection on host metabolism are summarised briefly. An important factor in the pathogenesis is a reduction in feed intake by the host. Gut nematodes also increase endogenous protein losses, which result in net loss of amino acids to the parasitised host, though energy and mineral metabolism are also perturbed. The indications are that the major nutritional change is in protein metabolism. Resilience (the ability of an animal to withstand the effects of infection) can be enhanced markedly by increasing metabolisable protein supply and to a lesser extent metabolisable energy supply. Resistance to GI nematodes (ability of host to prevent establishment and/or development of infection) is also influenced by diet, particularly metabolisable protein supply. While there do not appear to be any effects of host nutrition on establishment of infective larvae, the rate of rejection of adult worms can be enhanced by improved nutrition. The exact nutritional requirements or the mechanisms involved are not known. It appears that the effects of improving nutritional status on host resilience are more clearly defined than effects on host resistance. The implication of changes in host resistance with nutritional state for host productivity need to be better described. Understanding the role of nutrition in improving both resistance and resilience of the host to GI parasites will be important if producers are to make better use of host acquired immunity and reduce dependence on pesticides for prophylaxis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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