Mast cells: new therapeutic target in helminth immune modulation

Parasite Immunol. 2016 Jan;38(1):45-52. doi: 10.1111/pim.12295.


Helminth infection and their secreted antigens have a protective role in many immune-mediated inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. However, studies have focused primarily on identifying immune protective mechanisms of helminth infection and their secreted molecules on dendritic cells and macrophages. Given that mast cells have been shown to be implicated in the pathogenesis and progression of many inflammatory disorders, their role should also be examined and considered as cellular target for helminth-based therapies. As there is a dearth of studies examining the interaction of helminth-derived antigens and mast cells, this review will focus on the role of mast cells during helminth infection and examine our current understanding of the involvement of mast cells in TH 1/TH 17-mediated immune disorders. In this context, potential mechanisms by which helminths could target the TH 1/TH 17 promoting properties of mast cells can be identified to unveil novel therapeutic mast cell driven targets in combating these inflammatory disorders.

Keywords: autoimmunity < disease; immune modulation < immunological terms; inflammation < disease; mast cell < cell; parasite.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Helminth / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Helminthiasis / immunology*
  • Helminths / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology
  • Therapy with Helminths / methods*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Antigens, Helminth
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha