The increased incidence of auto-inflammatory and autoimmune diseases in the developed countries seems to be caused by an imbalance of the immune system due to the lack of proper regulation. Helminth parasites are well known modulators of the immune system and as such are of great interest for the treatment of these disorders. Clinical studies showed that administration of eggs of the pig nematode Trichuris suis to patients with inflammatory bowel disease reduces the disease severity. Here we demonstrate that treatment with soluble products from the nematodes T. suis and Trichinella spiralis induces significant suppression of symptoms in murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a validated animal model for multiple sclerosis. These data show that infection with live nematodes is not a prerequisite for suppression of inflammation. To translate these results to the human system, the effects of soluble products of T. suis, T. spiralis and Schistosoma mansoni on the phenotype and function of human dendritic cells (DCs) were compared. Our data show that soluble products of T. suis, S. mansoni and T. spiralis suppress TNF-α and IL-12 secretion by TLR-activated human DCs, and that T. suis and S. mansoni, but not T. spiralis, strongly enhance expression of OX40L. Furthermore, helminth-primed human DCs differentially suppress the development of Th1 and/or Th17 cells. In conclusion, our data demonstrate that soluble helminth products have strong immunomodulatory capacities, but might exert their effects through different mechanisms. The suppressed secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines together with an upregulation of OX40L expression on human DCs might contribute to achieve this modulation.
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