Alterations of pulmonary defense mechanisms by protein depletion diet

G. J. Jakab, G. A. Warr, C. L. Astry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pulmonary defense mechanisms were quantitated in mice that were fed a protein-free diet (PFD) for periods of 2 and 3 weeks. Despite the severe weight loss and emaciation induced by the diet, the bactericidal mechanisms in their lungs were preserved against aerogenic challenges with Staphylococcus aureus, Proteus mirabilis, and Listeria monocytogenes. Phagocytic assays of alveolar macrophages that were retrieved by pulmonary lavage from PFD-fed animals showed a decrease in Fc receptor-mediated binding activity but no alteration in the ingestion of sensitized erythrocytes. In contrast, the PFD induced defects in both the attachment phase and the engulfment phase of the phagocytic process when the challenge organism was Candida krusei. The PFD suppressed the pulmonary inflammatory response after mice were infected with influenza virus strain PR8; such mice also failed to eliminate infectious virus from their lungs. Virus infection in control mice suppressed pulmonary antibacterial defenses against challenges with S. aureus and P. mirabilis, a defect that was ameliorated in the lungs of PFD-fed mice with viral pneumonia. The data demonstrated that pulmonary defense mechanisms were modulated by a PFD but that the observed effect was dependent on the agent used to test host defenses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)610-622
Number of pages13
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1981
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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