The Effect of Vitamin E Supplementation on Parasite Resistance in Sheep

In recent years, the daily recommended intake of vitamin E for small ruminants was dramatically increased (National Research Council, 2007) due to its beneficial effects on several indices of immune function. 

URI Peckham Farm, May 2014
URI Peckham Farm, May 2014

Background

In recent years, the daily recommended intake of vitamin E for small ruminants was dramatically increased (National Research Council, 2007) due to its beneficial effects on several indices of immune function.  However, several compounds known to be integrally involved in an effective immune response against parasites are decreased in animals supplemented with vitamin E.  Thus, supplementing dietary vitamin E, at the level currently recommended by the NRC, may compromise the ability of small ruminants, particularly young animals, to resist nematode infection.

URI Research

URI has conducted research on the effect of Vitamin E supplementation (at the level currently recommended) on parasite resistance in sheep.  Vitamin E supplementation of sheep infected with Haemonchus contortus (barber pole worm) resulted in a decrease in abomasal (stomach) worm burden and enhanced the immune response to gastrointestinal nematode infection.  Further investigations into the mechanism of action of vitamin E on parasitic infections are needed.

Lead URI researcher:

Katherine Petersson, Ph.D. – kpetersson@uri.edu
Dept. Fisheries, Animal and Veterinary Sciences

Research results have been published in peer-reviewed journals:

MacGlaflin, C., Zajac, A., Rego, K., Petersson, K. 2011.  Effect of vitamin E supplementation on naturally acquired parasitic infection in lambs. Vet. Parasitology.  175:300-305.

Anugu, S.A., Petersson-Wolfe, C.S., Combs, G.F., Jr., Petersson, K.H.  Effect of vitamin E on the immune system of ewes during late pregnancy and lactation. SmallRuminant Research 2012. DOI. 10.1016/j.smallrumres.2012.10.010.

A third manuscript is currently under peer review (Veterinary Parasitology).

URI presented on-going research at the 92nd Annual Conference for Research Workers in Animal Diseases (CRWAD, Chicago, IL), December 2011; and at several workshops and meetings conducted for farmers and veterinarians throughout the Northeast region.


This work is supported by funding from the Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Project LNE10-300 which is supported by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture; and the Rhode Island Agricultural Experiment Station (RI00H-900-INT).  

 

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