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Aust J Exp Biol Med Sci. 1979 Apr;57(2):151-60.

The effect of protein-deprivation on the susceptibility to influenza virus infection: a murine model system.


The effect of a 4% albumin diet initiated at weaning on the susceptibility to influenza virus infection was studied in C57Bl mice. Protein-deprivation was found to enhance markedly the susceptibility to a lethal infection with both mouse-virulent and avirulent strains of virus. Viraemia was observed more frequently in protein-deprived mice, and virus persisted longer in the lungs. The humoral immune response following intranasal infection was depressed, with normal levels of IgG antibody but reduced levels of IgM antibody. No difference was found in the seroconversion frequencies between well-nourished and protein-deprived mice. Pre-immunization did not affect the virus titres in the lungs of protein-deprived mice after challenge with the homologous virus, nor did it prevent the spread of virus to the thymus and brain. The results were discussed in terms of the immunocompetence of the malnourished host and of the potential risk of epidemic influenza in children suffering from severe forms of protein-energy malnutrition.

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