• Although enzyme defects in purine metabolism have revealed the importance of these substrates to maintenance of a normal immune response, the role of exogenous nucleotides on the cells that mediate the host defense system has remained largely unexplored. Recent investigations have revealed that dietary nucleotides are vital to the maintenance of cell-mediated responses to antigen stimulation. To test the influence of dietary nucleotide deprivation on resistance to infection, Balb/c mice were maintained on chow, a nucleotide-free (NF) diet, or an NF diet repleted with adenine, uracil, or RNA. Mice on the NF diet suffered 100% mortality following intravenous challenge with Staphylococcus aureus, while chow-fed and RNA- or uracil-repleted mice demonstrated significantly greater resistance to this bacterial challenge. Macrophages from mice on the NF diet had decreased phagocytic activity as measured by uptake of radiolabeled bacteria compared with mice maintained on the NF diet supplemented with adenine, uracil, or RNA. No change in S aureus antibody response was noted on the various diets. Although the mechanism of this suppression of nonspecific immunity remains unclear, provision of nucleotides to defined diets appears vital to maintain host resistance to bacterial challenge.
(Arch Surg 1986;121:169-172)