Mice suppress malaria infection by sampling a 'bitter' chemotherapy agent

Sk. Vitazkova et al., Mice suppress malaria infection by sampling a 'bitter' chemotherapy agent, ANIM BEHAV, 61, 2001, pp. 887-894
Citations number
Categorie Soggetti
Animal Sciences","Neurosciences & Behavoir
Journal title
ISSN journal
0003-3472 → ACNP
Year of publication
887 - 894
SICI code
Rodents have evolved a variety of feeding strategies for maintaining physio logical homeostasis. We examined the possibility that mice possess behaviou ral mechanisms for counteracting parasite-related diseases. We used an inbr ed strain of laboratory mouse (BALB/c), a murine-specific malaria parasite (Plasmodium berghei berghei), and a 'bitter' chemotherapy agent (chloroquin e) as our model system. We asked whether the infected mice would ingest an unpalatable chloroquine solution, and, if so, whether they would benefit fr om doing so. Seven days after infecting the experimental mice with the para sites, we provided them with a choice between two water bottles; one contai ned water and the other a 1 mM chloroquine solution. We monitored their dai ly consumption from both bottles, and progression of the malaria infection by tracking changes in the percentage of parasitemia of red blood cells and mortality. We had two control groups: one had access to chloroquine but we re not infected (no-malaria mice), and the other was infected but did not h ave access to chloroquine (no-chloroquine mice). The experimental mice show ed significantly less parasitemia and mortality than the no-chloroquine mic e. The ability of the experimental mice to contain the malaria infection wa s determined by the fact that they took approximately 20% of their fluid fr om the chloroquine solution. We found, however, that this chloroquine consu mption was not caused by the malaria infection because the no-malaria mice ingested statistically similar amounts of the chloroquine solution. Upon ex amining the literature, we discovered many other examples of apparently hea lthy mammals sampling a diverse range of 'bitter' substances. We conclude t hat the tendency to sample different 'bitter' substances is widespread amon g mammals, and may constitute a feedforward mechanism for chemoprophylaxis against parasitic infections and other illnesses. (C) 2001 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour.