Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BHNRC) » Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center » Diet, Genomics and Immunology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #123324


item Levander, Orville

Submitted to: Journal of Clinical Microbiology
Publication Type: Literature Review
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/1/2002
Publication Date: 5/1/2003
Citation: Beck, M., Levander, O.A., Handy, J. 2003. Nutrition and viral disease. Journal of Clinical Microbiology.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The discovery that the juvenile cardiomyopathy known as Keshan disease likely has a dual etiology involving both a nutritional deficiency of the essential trace mineral selenium (Se) as well as an infection with an enterovirus provided the impetus for additional studies of nutrition/viral infection relationships. An amyocarditic strain of coxsackievirus B3, CVB3/0, converted to virulence when inoculated into Se-deficient mice. This conversion was accompanied by changes in the genetic structure of the virus so that its genome now closely resembled that of other known virulent CVB3 strains. Similar alterations in virulence and genomic composition of CVB3/0 could be observed either in vitamin E-deficient mice or in mice fed normal diets but genetically deprived of the antioxidant selenoenzyme glutathione peroxidase (knock-out mice). More recent research has shown that a mild strain of influenza, influenza A/Bangkok/1/79, also exhibits increased virulence when given to Se- deficient mice. This increased virulence is accompanied by multiple changes in the viral genome, in a segment previously thought to be relatively stable. Epidemic neuropathies in Cuba and Africa have features that suggest a combined nutritional/viral etiology. Further research, both basic and applied, is needed to assess properly the possible role of malnutrition in contributing to the emergence of novel viral diseases.