Suppression of inflammation by helminths: a role for the gut microbiota?

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2015 Aug 19;370(1675):20140296. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2014.0296.


Multiple recent investigations have highlighted the promise of helminth-based therapies for the treatment of inflammatory disorders of the intestinal tract of humans, including inflammatory bowel disease and coeliac disease. However, the mechanisms by which helminths regulate immune responses, leading to the amelioration of symptoms of chronic inflammation are unknown. Given the pivotal roles of the intestinal microbiota in the pathogenesis of these disorders, it has been hypothesized that helminth-induced modifications of the gut commensal flora may be responsible for the therapeutic properties of gastrointestinal parasites. In this article, we review recent progress in the elucidation of host-parasite-microbiota interactions in both animal models of chronic inflammation and humans, and provide a working hypothesis of the role of the gut microbiota in helminth-induced suppression of inflammation.

Keywords: helminth-induced suppression of inflammation; hookworms; host–parasite interactions; microbial richness; microbiota; whipworms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Ancylostomatoidea / immunology
  • Animals
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / parasitology
  • Celiac Disease / prevention & control
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology*
  • Helminths / immunology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / methods
  • Inflammation / microbiology
  • Inflammation / parasitology*
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / parasitology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / prevention & control
  • Trichuris / immunology