Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infection leads to the development of emphysema associated with the induction of alternatively activated macrophages

Eur J Immunol. 2008 Feb;38(2):479-88. doi: 10.1002/eji.200737827.


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the 5(th) most prevalent disease worldwide leading to severe morbidity and mortality in developed countries. The disease is strongly associated with smoking, and can be characterized by progressive and irreversible deterioration in lung function and destruction of the lung parenchyma. We show here that infection with the hookworm Nippostrongylus brasiliensis results in deterioration in lung function, destruction of alveoli and long-term airways hyperresponsiveness, consistent with COPD and emphysema. N. brasiliensis infection leads to chronic low level hemorrhaging in the lung and the presence of hemosiderin-laden macrophages in the absence of an overt inflammatory infiltrate. Microarray analysis of gene expression in diseased lungs and quantitative RT-PCR analysis of purified macrophages revealed a state of prolonged tissue injury and the presence of alternatively activated macrophages producing MMP-12. Taken together, these data show that lung tissue damage caused by hookworm infection can result in the development of COPD and emphysema.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / immunology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / enzymology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / immunology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / parasitology
  • Bronchial Hyperreactivity / pathology
  • Chronic Disease
  • Lung / enzymology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / parasitology
  • Lung / pathology
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology*
  • Macrophages / enzymology
  • Macrophages / immunology*
  • Macrophages / parasitology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 12 / biosynthesis
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 12 / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Nippostrongylus / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / immunology*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / parasitology*
  • Pulmonary Emphysema / pathology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Strongylida Infections / enzymology
  • Strongylida Infections / immunology*
  • Strongylida Infections / pathology


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 12