Weanling C3H/HeN mice were fed either a torula yeast-based diet deficient in selenium (Se) or the same diet supplemented with 0.2 ppm Se as sodium selenite. After 4 wk of feeding, the mice were inoculated intraperitoneally with the CA-I strain (clone K98) of Trypanosoma cruzi (TC). Before inoculation, mean serum Se levels were 430 versus 61 ng/ml in adequate and deficient mice, respectively. During the ascending phase of parasitemia, the Se-deficient mice exhibited significantly higher levels of parasites at 22–34 days postinfection (PI). However, no difference was found in the subsequent descending phase. As judged by visual examination at 2-mo-PI, some Se-deficient infected mice presented clinical signs of motor dysfunction. At 3-mo-PI, the end of the observation period, this chronic disease developed into a hind limb flaccid paralysis affecting 5 of 8 infected deficient mice. No signs of paralysis were seen in noninfected mice fed either diet or in infected mice fed the Se-adequate diet. At the histological level, both Se-adequate and Se-deficient infected mice showed mild myocarditis and moderate to severe myositis, with increasing intensity from 1- to 3-mo-PI in both groups. However, the severity of myositis was always more intense in the Se-deficient mice so that prominent areas of skeletal muscle replaced by fibrotic tissue were frequently observed. Thus, it can be concluded that Se deficiency in the murine host increases the severity of TC-induced myositis.

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