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Transition metals are required cofactors for many proteins that are critical for life, and their concentration within cells is carefully maintained to avoid both deficiency and toxicity. To defend against bacterial pathogens, vertebrate immune proteins sequester metals, in particular zinc, iron, and manganese, as a strategy to limit bacterial acquisition of these necessary nutrients in a process termed “nutritional immunity.” In response, bacteria have evolved elegant strategies to access metals and counteract this host defense. In mammals, metal abundance can drastically shift due to changes in dietary intake or absorption from the intestinal tract, disrupting the balance between host and pathogen in the fight for metals and altering susceptibility to disease. This review describes the current understanding of how dietary metals modulate host-microbe interactions and the subsequent impact on the outcome of disease.


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