Purpose: To compare infection with the tapeworm, Hymenolepis diminuta, with steroid (dexamethasone) administration in the inhibition of dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid- (DNBS-) induced colitis in mice.
Procedures: Mice were treated with DNBS +/- infected with H. diminuta or treated with daily dexamethasone (2 mg/Kg, ip.) and were assessed 72 hours post-DNBS by the calculation of disease activity and histological damage scores, and spleen cell cytokine production.
Results: H. diminuta-infected mice showed increased IL-4 and IL-10 production by spleen cells compared to other groups and were protected from DNBS-induced colitis. In contrast, there was little benefit of dexamethasone in the treatment of colitis. Collagen deposition in the colon was not different between the groups.
Conclusions: H. diminuta was superior to dexamethasone in the prevention of DNBS-induced colitis and did not result in additional side effects (i.e., collagen deposition). Comparisons with current therapeutics and long-term followup to studies are essential if "helminth therapy" is to become a viable treatment for specific inflammatory diseases in the gut or other tissues.