Dietary oxidative stress and the potentiation of viral infection

Annu Rev Nutr. 1998;18:93-116. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.18.1.93.


Oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis of several viral infections, including hepatitis, influenza, and AIDS. Dietary oxidative stress due to either selenium or vitamin E deficiency increases cardiac damage in mice infected with a myocarditic strain of coxsackievirus B3. Such dietary oxidative stress also allows a normally benign (i.e., amyocarditic) coxsackievirus B3 to convert to virulence and cause heart damage. This conversion to virulence is due to a nucleotide sequence change in the genome of the benign virus, which then resembles more closely the nucleotide sequence of virulent strains. Although it has been known for many years that poor nutrition can affect host response to infection, this is the first report of host nutrition affecting the genetic sequence of a pathogen. Further research is needed to determine whether poor host nutrition plays any role in the emergence of new viral diseases via alterations in he genotype of an infectious agent.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Selenium / deficiency
  • Virus Diseases*
  • Vitamin E Deficiency


  • Selenium