Cohabitation in the Intestine: Interactions among Helminth Parasites, Bacterial Microbiota, and Host Immunity

J Immunol. 2015 Nov 1;195(9):4059-66. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1501432.


Both intestinal helminth parasites and certain bacterial microbiota species have been credited with strong immunomodulatory effects. Recent studies reported that the presence of helminth infection alters the composition of the bacterial intestinal microbiota and, conversely, that the presence and composition of the bacterial microbiota affect helminth colonization and persistence within mammalian hosts. This article reviews recent findings on these reciprocal relationships, in both human populations and mouse models, at the level of potential mechanistic pathways and the implications these bear for immunomodulatory effects on allergic and autoimmune disorders. Understanding the multidirectional complex interactions among intestinal microbes, helminth parasites, and the host immune system allows for a more holistic approach when using probiotics, prebiotics, synbiotics, antibiotics, and anthelmintics, as well as when designing treatments for autoimmune and allergic conditions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Helminthiasis / immunology*
  • Helminthiasis / microbiology*
  • Homeostasis
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Intestines / parasitology*
  • Mice
  • Microbiota*
  • Toll-Like Receptors / physiology


  • Toll-Like Receptors