Background: Dynamic interactions between the host and gastrointestinal microbiota play an important role for local and systemic immune homeostasis. Helminthic parasites modulate the host immune response, resulting in protection against autoimmune disease but also increased susceptibility to pathogen infection. The underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown.
Results: We showed that the type 2 immune response to enteric Nippostrongylus brasiliensis infection in mice was associated with altered intestinal mucin and AMP expression and shifts in microbiota composition. Most strikingly, infection reduced concentrations of intestinal segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB), known inducers of T helper 17 cells, and IL-17-associated gene expression. Infected mice deficient in IL-13 or STAT6 did not reduce SFB or IL-17, and exogenous IL-25 replicated the effects of parasite infection in wild type mice.
Conclusions: Our data show that parasite infection acts through host type 2 immunity to reduce intestinal SFB and expression of IL-17, providing an example of a microbiota-dependent immune modulation by parasites.