Toxoplasmosis, particularly toxoplasmic encephalitis, has emerged as a major cause of morbidity and mortality in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Patients infected with human immunodeficiency virus typically experience chronic oxidative stress, and concurrent infection with the intracellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii would be expected to further exacerbate this condition. The present study was conducted to determine whether vitamin E and selenium supplementation might be beneficial in a murine model of toxoplasmosis. To investigate the effect of these antioxidants on the severity of parasitic infection, Swiss Webster (SW) or C57Bl/6J mice infected with oocysts of the ME49 strain of T. gondii were maintained on diets containing no vitamin E or selenium, no vitamin E and 8 ppm selenium, 400 IU/kg vitamin E plus 8 ppm selenium, or vitamin E and selenium at the levels present in standard rodent chow (16 IU/kg and 0.2 ppm, respectively). The results of the study showed that increased dietary supplementation with vitamin E and selenium resulted in trends toward increased tissue cyst number, tissue pathology, and weight loss during infection. In contrast, both resistant SW and susceptible C57Bl/6J mice fed a deficient diet (complete absence of vitamin E and selenium) showed the lowest mean numbers of tissue cysts and very little evidence of tissue pathology during chronic infection.
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