The effect of vitamin E supplementation on an experimental Haemonchus contortus infection in lambs

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The objective of this study was to investigate the effect of vitamin E supplementation on an experimental Haemonchus contortus infection in lambs. Twenty lambs were stratified into two treatment groups based on fecal egg count. Worm-free lambs, 28-32 weeks of age, were supplemented with vitamin E (d-α-tocopherol) for 12 weeks following the recommendations of the National Research Council for the minimum daily requirement (control; 5.3. IU/kg body weight (BW)/day (d), n=10) or the requirement for optimal immune function (VE10; 10. IU/kg BW/d, n=10). Five weeks following initiation of vitamin E supplementation, lambs were infected with 10,000 H. contortus third stage larvae. Samples were taken weekly to quantify serum α-tocopherol, serum total non-specific immunoglobulin (Ig)G, whole worm antigen specific IgG, packed cell volume (PCV), and fecal egg count (FEC). Expression of cytokine genes IFN-λ and IL-4 were measured in peripheral blood collected prior to slaughter. Lambs were necropsied six weeks after infection and the α-tocopherol concentration of liver, muscle and lymph node were measured as well as abomasal worm burden and histologic evaluation of the abomasum for inflammation and enumeration of eosinophils and globule leukocytes. The livers of VE10 lambs contained slightly more α-tocopherol than control lambs. No differences were observed in serum, muscle or lymph node α-tocopherol concentration, serum IgG or peripheral mRNA expression of IL-4 or IFN-λ between control and VE10 lambs. However, lambs supplemented at 10. IU/kg BW/d had a lower PCV reduction, FEC and worm burden 49% less than control lambs. Worm burden was negatively correlated with eosinophil (-0.720, P<. 0.05) and globule leukocyte count (-0.867, P<. 0.05). Strong positive correlations were observed within the inflammatory cell response in VE10 lambs that was absent in control lambs. These data indicate that additional vitamin E supplementation resulted in lower worm burden and greater recruitment of innate effector cells to the site of infection. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanism by which vitamin E affects greater recruitment of innate effector cells to the abomasum during gastrointestinal nematode infection of lambs. © 2014.

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Veterinary Parasitology