The ability of animals to cope with an increasing parasite load, in terms of resilience and resistance, may be affected by both nutrient supply and demand. Here, we hypothesized that host nutrition and growth potential interact and influence the ability of mice to cope with different parasite doses. Mice selected for high (ROH) or low (ROL) body weight were fed a low (40 g/kg; LP) or high (230 g/kg; HP) protein diet and infected with 0, 50, 100, 150, 200 or 250 L3 infective Heligmosomoides bakeri larvae. ROH-LP mice grew less at doses of 150 L3 and above, whilst growth of ROH-HP and of ROL mice was not affected by infection pressure. Total worm burdens reached a plateau at doses of 150L3, whilst ROH mice excreted fewer worm eggs than ROL mice. Serum antibodies increased with infection dose and ROH mice were found to have higher parasite-specific IgG1 titres than ROL mice. In contrast, ROL had higher total IgE titres than ROH mice, only on HP diets. The interaction between host nutrition and growth potential appears to differentially affect resilience and resistance in mice. However, the results support the view that parasitism penalises performance in animals selected for higher growth.
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