Albino mice lose weight within 24 hours following administration of bacterial endotoxin. The initial weight loss is proportional to the dose of endotoxin injected only when this dose is very small. The loss during the 1st day reaches a maximum with 10 to 30 µg of endotoxin; larger doses increase the duration of the overall effect.
The rate at which mice regain weight after administration of endotoxin is markedly influenced by the composition of the diet. Recovery was rapid and complete within a few days when the animals were fed commercial pellets or a semisynthetic diet containing casein. In contrast, recovery was slow and incomplete when wheat gluten was used instead of casein in the diet. The deleterious effect of the gluten diet was less marked in older than in younger animals, probably because the latter have less exacting nutritional requirements.
It was postulated that the failure of endotoxin-treated mice to regain weight when fed the gluten diet was due to the fact that this protein is low in certain amino acids. In fact, rapid and complete recovery from the weight loss uniformly occurred when the gluten diet was supplemented with proper amounts of lysine and threonine.
The composition of the diet did not influence the extent of the initial loss of weight caused by endotoxin, nor did it prevent the animals from developing tolerance to this substance.