The relationship between iron deficiency and protein deficiency and infestation of the rat with the nematode Nippostrongylus brasiliensis was investigated. There was a significant delay in the expulsion of N. brasiliensis from the small intestine of both iron deficient and protein deficient animals and those with a combined deficiency of iron and protein. Iron repletion returned the time of worm expulsion to normal and this would appear to be related to iron deficiency per se rather than to anaemia. Antibody initiated damage to worms was normal in the control animals and in animals with nutritional deficiencies. This suggests that the defect in worm expulsion occurs either in the cell-mediated immune system or in one of the other mediators of expulsion. Extrapolation to the human situation has important therapeutic implications in that iron and protein deficiency may play an important role in the perpetuation of helminth infestations. Thus, to be successful antihelminth therapy should be accompanied by iron and protein supplementation.
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