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Interactions between Infections, Nutrients and Xenobiotics

image of Interactions between Infections, Nutrients and Xenobiotics

During recent years there have been several incidents where symptoms of disease have been linked to consumption of food contaminated by chemical substances (e.g. TCDD). Furthermore, outbreaks of infections in food producing animals have attracted major attention with regards to the safety for consumers (e.g., BSE and influenza in chicken). As shown for several xenobiotics in an increasing number of experimental studies, even low-dose xenobiotic exposure may impair immune function over time, as well as microorganism virulence, resulting in more severe infectious diseases and possibly other diseases as well. Also, during ongoing infection, xenobiotic uptake and distribution is often changed resulting in increased toxic insult to the host. The interactions between infectious agents, nutrients, and xenobiotics have thus become a developing concern and new avenue of research in food toxicology, as well as in food-born diseases. From a health perspective, in the risk assessment of xenobiotics in our food and environment, synergistic effects between microorganisms, nutrients, and xenobiotics will have to be considered. Such effects may otherwise gradually change the disease panorama in society. The author of this report is senior food toxicologist at the National Food Administration, Uppsala, Sweden. He is PhD and Adjunct Professor in Experimental Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Medicine, Uppsala University, Sweden, and a great part of his scientific production has been devoted to the theme covered in this report.

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Gastrointestinal Absorption of Nutrients and Chemical Substances in Infection

As noted earlier, infections in general change the metabolism and the uptake of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract. The absorption of individual amino acids from the intestine may be depressed and delayed or increased depending on the infection studied (Beisel, 1998). Food components in the gastrointestinal tract can also markedly alter the bioavailability of chemical substances (Ilbäck et al., 2004b). For example, preclinical studies have shown that the bioavailability of the broad spectrum antipicornaviral drug Pleconaril is markedly enhanced together with food, with roughly a seven-fold difference in bioavailability between fed and fasting states (Abdel-Rahman and Kearns, 1998).

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