Epidemiological and experimental studies support the idea that helminth infections can induce a protective effect against the development of autoimmune and allergic diseases. In this study we characterized the immune response induced by Strongyloides venezuelensis infection in C57BL/6 mice and then evaluated the effect of a previous contact with this helminth in the outcome of type 1 diabetes. Animals were initially infected with 2000 L3 larvae from S. venezuelensis and euthanized 22 days later. An acute phase, identified by a high amount of eggs per gram of feces, was established between days 7 and 9 post-infection. Recovery from infection was associated with a Th2 polarized response characterized by a significant level of serum IgG1 specific antibodies and also a significant production of IL-5 and IL-10 by spleen cells stimulated with S. venezuelensis soluble antigen. Immunization with soluble S. venezuelensis antigen associated with complete Freund's adjuvant followed by infection with S. venezuelensis protected mice from diabetes development induced by streptozotocin. Protection was characterized by a higher body weight gain, lower glycemic levels, much less severe insulitis and preserved insulin production. Together, these results indicate that S. venezuelensis contributed to protect C57BL/6 mice against experimental diabetes induced by streptozotocin.
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