Multiple worms species better for immunoregulation

It would appear, based on observations of African as opposed to Western children that the formers' exposure to multiple species of gut worms reduces thier immune reactivity.


Intensity of Intestinal Infection with Multiple Worm Species Is Related to Regulatory Cytokine Output and Immune Hyporesponsiveness
Joseph D. Turner,1,a Joseph A. Jackson,1 Helen Faulkner,1 Jerzy Behnke,1 Kathryn J. Else,2 Joseph Kamgno,3 Michel Boussinesq,3,a and Janette E. Bradley1
1School of Biology, Nottingham University, Nottingham, 2Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom; 3Laboratoire Mixte Institut de Recherche pour le Développement–Centre Pasteur du Cameroun (IRD-CPC) d’Epidémiologie de Santé Publique, Centre Pasteur du Cameroun, Yaoundé, Cameroon

Increasing immunological dysfunction (atopy and autoimmunity) in western society may be linked to changes in undetermined environmental agents. We hypothesize that increased exposure to multiple gut worm species promotes stronger immunological regulation. We report here that African children constitutively secrete more immunoregulatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-10 and transforming growth factor [TGF]- β1) under conditions of hyperendemic exposure to the intestinal nematodes Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura, compared with conditions of mesoendemic exposure. Under conditions of hyperendemic exposure, estimators of combined intestinal nematode infection level relate positively to combined constitutive IL-10 and TGF-β1 production and negatively to total immune reactivity (determined as IL-4, interferon-γ, and cellular proliferative responses to Ascaris or Trichuris helminth antigens, Streptococcus pneumoniae bacterial antigen, or the mitogen phytohemaglutinin). Total immune reactivity and anti-inflammatory cytokine production relate inversely. Our data suggest that gut nematodes are important mediators of immunoregulation.

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First Published March 2008