Nematode modulation of inflammatory bowel disease

Protoplasma. 2012 Oct;249(4):871-86. doi: 10.1007/s00709-011-0342-x. Epub 2011 Nov 17.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic disease arising due to a culmination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle-associated factors and resulting in an excessive pro-inflammatory response to bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal tract. The prevalence of IBD in developing nations is relatively low, and it has been proposed that this is directly correlated with a high incidence of helminth infections in these areas. Gastrointestinal nematodes are the most prevalent parasitic worms, and they efficiently modulate the immune system of their hosts in order to establish chronic infections. Thus, they may be capable of suppressing unrelated inflammation in disorders such as IBD. This review describes how nematodes, or their products, suppress innate and adaptive pro-inflammatory immune responses and how the mechanisms involved in the induction of anti-nematode responses regulate colitis in experimental models and clinical trials with IBD patients. We also discuss how refinement of nematode-derived therapies should ultimately result in the development of potent new therapeutics of clinical inflammatory disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / parasitology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / immunology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / parasitology*
  • Nematoda / cytology
  • Nematoda / immunology*
  • Nematoda / metabolism