Effects of folic acid malnutrition on rotaviral infection in mice

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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med



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A study was undertaken to determine if dietary deficiencies of folic acid would influence rotaviral diarrheal disease in infant mice. Female mice were fed diets containing essentially no folic acid, 25% of a normal quantity of folic acid, or a normally recommended quantity of folic acid, beginning at time of breeding and continuing through periods of gestation and lactation. Two-day-old infants from these dams were exposed to purified murine rotavirus or to sterile virus diluent and the severity of the rotaviral infection monitored. Infants from the low folic acid group had significantly lower folate levels in their livers, indicating a deficiency was achieved, and developed more severe disease manifestations than those infants from the dams receiving the normal folic acid levels in their diet. The infection enhancement was seen as increased incidences of diarrhea and a significantly greater number of mice exhibiting high intestinal rotaviral antigen titers. Serum rotavirus antibody titers were below detectable levels in a significant number of these same infants.