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Calorie Restriction of Laboratory Mice: Good for Mice and Sometimes for Their Parasites

Presented by:  Deborah Kristan, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Sciences, California State University San Marcos

Health benefits of long-term calorie restriction (CR) of laboratory animals are well-documented, ranging from decreased incidence of disease to increased lifespan. One physiological benefit of CR is enhanced immune function when tested using antigens or mitogen stimulation.

Fewer studies of laboratory mice have used intact parasites to test immune function after long-term CR of the host. In these studies, despite similar or enhanced immune function, CR hosts were more susceptible to intact parasite infection than ad libitum fed hosts. 

Would this observation be consistent for additional helminth parasites and among different mouse strains? We tested effects of CR on susceptibility of laboratory mice to three helminth parasites (results for two are still in the pilot phase); we used two strains of laboratory mice for one of these parasites.

We found that infection outcomes varied with parasite species and between laboratory mouse strains, despite using similar CR protocols in all experiments. 

Given that the relationship between parasite susceptibility and host CR is variable in a controlled laboratory setting, making predictions for effects of food availability and parasite infection of wild host-parasite populations will be challenging.

This and all other lectures in the Seminar Series will be held at the Beckman Center Meeting Room, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (next to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido) unless otherwise noted.

Address to the Beckman Center: 15600 San Pasqual Valley Road
Escondido, California 92027.


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