Helminth parasites and the modulation of joint inflammation

J Parasitol Res. 2011;2011:942616. doi: 10.1155/2011/942616. Epub 2011 Apr 18.

Abstract

There is an urgent need to develop better therapeutics for autoimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, of which musculoskeletal disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis are particularly prevalent and debilitating. Helminth parasites are accomplished masters at modifying their hosts' immune activity, and so attention has focused on rodent-helminth model systems to uncover the workings of the mammalian immune response to metazoan parasites, with the hope of revealing molecules and/or mechanisms that can be translated into better treatments for human autoimmune and idiopathic disorders. Substantial proof-of-principal data supporting the concept that infection with helminth parasites can reduce the severity of concomitant disease has been amassed from models of mucosal inflammation. Indeed, infection with helminth parasites has been tried as a therapy in inflammatory bowel disease, and there are case reports relating to other conditions (e.g., autism); however, the impact of infection with parasitic helminths on musculoskeletal diseases has not been extensively studied. Here, we present the view that such a strategy should be applied to the amelioration of joint inflammation and review the literature that supports this contention.