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J Nutr. 2008 Jun;138(6):1148-52.

C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 are decreased in transgenic sickle cell mice fed a high protein diet.

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  • 1Emory University School of Medicine and the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


Sickle cell disease is associated with hypermetabolism and a consequent shortage of substrates for normal growth and healthy immune response. The protein:energy ratio is a major determinant of dietary adequacy; the requirement for optimal growth of control mice is 20% of energy from dietary protein. This study investigated the efficacy of increased dietary protein for improving weight gain and reducing inflammation in the Berkeley sickle cell mouse model (S). The study examined the effect of diet on weight gain and circulating levels of 2 inflammatory proteins, C-reactive protein (CRP), and cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6). Male C57BL/6 (C) control (n = 8) and S mice (n = 8) were randomized at weaning to 40 d of isoenergetic diets containing 20% (normal) and 35% (high) of energy from protein (C20, C35, S20, S35), replacing dextrin. Rate of weight gain was calculated and plasma CRP and IL-6 concentrations determined by ELISA. Liver mRNA expression of these proteins was measured by real-time PCR and L-arginase by colorimetric assay. S35 mice tended to gain weight more rapidly than S20 mice (P = 0.06) and more rapidly than C35 mice (P < 0.01). Circulating CRP and IL-6 levels were also lower in S35 mice than in S20 mice (P < 0.05), as was liver CRP mRNA expression (P < 0.01). These results demonstrate that introducing a high protein diet at weaning attenuates the steady-state inflammation in this S mouse model. Dietary L-arginine availability was investigated as a possible mechanism for increased nitric oxide production and consequent reduced inflammation.

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