Helminthic infection has become rare in highly industrialized nations. Concurrent with the decline in helminthic infection has been an increase in the prevalence of inflammatory disease. Removal of helminths from our environment and their powerful effects on host immunity may have contributed to this increase. Several helminth species can abrogate disease in murine models of inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. Helminths evoke immune regulatory pathways often involving dendritic cells, regulatory T cells, and macrophages that help to control disease. Cytokines, such as IL-4, IL-10, and TGF-β, have a role. Notable is the helminthic modulatory effect on innate immunity, which impedes development of aberrant adaptive immunity. Investigators are identifying key helminth-derived immune modulatory molecules that may have therapeutic usefulness in the control of inflammatory disease.
Copyright © 2014 by The American Association of Immunologists, Inc.