Host nutritional status and its effect on a viral pathogen

J Infect Dis. 2000 Sep;182 Suppl 1:S93-6. doi: 10.1086/315918.


The nutritional status of the host has long been associated with both severity and susceptibility to infectious disease. The accepted model system proposes that inadequate nutrition impairs the functioning of the immune system, thus resulting in increased susceptibility to infection. However, current work suggests that not only can the nutritional status of the host affect the immune response, but it can also affect the viral pathogen. In a mouse model, a benign strain of coxsackievirus B3 became virulent and caused myocarditis in selenium- and vitamin E-deficient mice. This change in pathogenicity was due to mutations in the viral genome, which changed an avirulent virus into a virulent one. Once these mutations occurred, even mice with normal nutriture developed disease from the mutated virus. These results suggest that the oxidative stress status of the host can have a profound influence on a viral pathogen.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathies / epidemiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / etiology
  • Cardiomyopathies / physiopathology
  • China / epidemiology
  • Cuba / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Nervous System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • RNA Viruses / genetics
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Virus Diseases / physiopathology*


  • Selenium