A Westernized-diet comprising a high caloric intake from animal fats is known to influence the development of pathological inflammatory conditions. However, there has been relatively little focus upon the implications of such diets for the progression of infectious disease. Here we investigated the influence of a high-fat (HF) diet upon parameters that influence infection in mice.

We determined that short-term administration of a HF diet increases the number of goblet cells, a known binding site for the pathogen in the gut, and also induces profound changes to the microbiota and promotes a pro-inflammatory gene expression profile in the host. Host physiological changes were concordant with significantly increased susceptibility to oral infection in mice fed a HF diet relative to low-fat (LF) or chow-fed animals. Prior to infection short-term consumption of HF diet elevated faecal levels of Firmicutes. During active infection with microbiota changes were further exacerbated but host inflammatory responses were significantly down-regulated relative to Listeria-infected LF or chow-fed groups, suggestive of a profound tampering of the host response influenced by infection in the context of a HF diet.

Overall the results indicate that short-term consumption of a Westernized-diet has the capacity to significantly alter host susceptibility to infection concomitant with changes to the host physiological landscape. The findings suggest that diet should be a consideration when developing models that reflect human infectious disease.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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