Vitamin E deficiency intensifies the myocardial injury of coxsackievirus B3 infection of mice

J Nutr. 1994 Mar;124(3):345-58. doi: 10.1093/jn/124.3.345.


Feeding a vitamin E-deficient diet increases pathology in hearts of mice infected with a myocarditic coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3/20). Hearts from infected mice fed a vitamin E-deficient diet rich in highly unsaturated fat (menhaden oil) exhibited more severe pathology than hearts from infected mice fed a vitamin E-deficient diet based largely on saturated fat (lard). Furthermore, a cloned and sequenced amyocarditic coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3/0), which caused little or no pathology in the hearts of vitamin E-supplemented mice, induced extensive cardiac pathology in vitamin E-deficient mice. In infected mice, both mitogen and antigen responses were depressed by vitamin E deficiency, although neutralizing antibody responses were unaffected. Natural killer cell responses were comparable in infected mice fed a lard-based diet with or without supplemented vitamin E. However, a menhaden oil-based diet, whether supplemented with vitamin E or not, significantly depressed natural killer cell activity in infected mice compared with mice fed the lard-based diet. Coxsackievirus B3/0 recovered from the heart of a vitamin E-deficient donor mouse, passaged one time onto HeLa cells, caused significant heart damage when passed back into vitamin E-supplemented recipient mice, demonstrating that the amyocarditic CVB3/0 had changed to a virulent phenotype. Enhanced virulence was also seen with CVB3/20 virus similarly passaged in a vitamin E-deficient donor. Our work demonstrates the important role of host nutritional antioxidant status in determining the severity of certain viral infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / pathology*
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Enterovirus B, Human* / pathogenicity
  • Fish Oils / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Myocarditis / microbiology
  • Myocarditis / pathology*
  • Spleen / immunology
  • Virulence
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / immunology
  • Vitamin E Deficiency / pathology*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fish Oils
  • Menhaden oil
  • lard