The dry weight and nitrogen content of Hymenolepis diminuta were studied after a period of 15 days‘ growth in rats receiving different diets. The special diets were fed during the last 7 days of this period, that is, while the major part of growth is occurring but before shedding proglottids.
Replacement of all the protein (casein) of the diet by carbohydrate resulted in greater development of the worm. However, replacement of casein by fat had no effect on worm development, indicating that removal of protein is not a significant factor, whereas addition of carbohydrate is effective.
Since exchange of casein by the nutritionally incomplete protein zein did not affect worm development significantly, protein quality appears not to be a factor in growth of H. diminuta.
The addition of tryptophan and lysine to the meal containing zein, in order to raise its nutritional value to that of casein, did not influence the growth of the parasite. However, the feeding of the same amounts of these two amino acids at times other than those of giving zein depressed the growth of the parasite. This was not due to type of protein (zein) fed in the rest of the diet, since a similar phenomenon occurs when casein is the dietary protein, or when a protein-free diet rich in carbohydrate is given. Addition of these amino acids, singly, either to diets containing protein or deficient in protein, had significant actions on worm growth, which was sometimes stimulated and in other circumstances reduced.
The nitrogen balance of the host was unaffected by the worm burden.
We are deeply indebted to Dr C. A. Hopkins for providing facilities, for infection of rats with the cestode, and for his helpful advice. Miss M. Cowan provided skilled technical assistance during the feeding of the animals and analysis of the host and parasite tissues. One of us (D.F.M.) gratefully acknowledges the Award of a Commonwealth Bursary from the Royal Society and the Nuffield Foundation.