Physiological changes in the gastrointestinal tract and host protective immunity: learning from the mouse-Trichinella spiralis model

Parasitology. 2008 May;135(6):671-82. doi: 10.1017/S0031182008004381.


Infection and inflammation in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract induces a number of changes in the GI physiology of the host. Experimental infections with parasites represent valuable models to study the structural and physiological changes in the GI tract. This review addresses research on the interface between the immune system and GI physiology, dealing specifically with 2 major components of intestinal physiology, namely mucin production and muscle function in relation to host defence, primarily based on studies using the mouse-Trichinella spiralis system. These studies demonstrate that the infection-induced T helper 2 type immune response is critical in generating the alterations of infection-induced mucin production and muscle function, and that this immune-mediated alteration in gut physiology is associated with host defence mechanisms. In addition, by manipulating the host immune response, it is possible to modulate the accompanying physiological changes, which may have clinical relevance. In addition to enhancing our understanding of immunological control of GI physiological changes in the context of host defence against enteric infections, the data acquired using the mouse-T. spiralis model provide a basis for understanding the pathophysiology of a wide range of GI disorders associated with altered gut physiology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / cytology
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / immunology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Trichinella spiralis / physiology*