A parasite-derived 68-mer peptide ameliorates autoimmune disease in murine models of Type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis

Sci Rep. 2016 Nov 24;6:37789. doi: 10.1038/srep37789.


Helminth parasites secrete molecules that potently modulate the immune responses of their hosts and, therefore, have potential for the treatment of immune-mediated human diseases. FhHDM-1, a 68-mer peptide secreted by the helminth parasite Fasciola hepatica, ameliorated disease in two different murine models of autoimmunity, type 1 diabetes and relapsing-remitting immune-mediated demyelination. Unexpectedly, FhHDM-1 treatment did not affect the proliferation of auto-antigen specific T cells or their production of cytokines. However, in both conditions, the reduction in clinical symptoms was associated with the absence of immune cell infiltrates in the target organ (islets and the brain tissue). Furthermore, after parenteral administration, the FhHDM-1 peptide interacted with macrophages and reduced their capacity to secrete pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF and IL-6. We propose this inhibition of innate pro-inflammatory immune responses, which are central to the initiation of autoimmunity in both diseases, prevented the trafficking of autoreactive lymphocytes from the periphery to the site of autoimmunity (as opposed to directly modulating their function per se), and thus prevented tissue destruction. The ability of FhHDM-1 to modulate macrophage function, combined with its efficacy in disease prevention in multiple models, suggests that FhHDM-1 has considerable potential as a treatment for autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmunity / immunology
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / immunology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Fasciola hepatica / immunology
  • Female
  • Helminth Proteins / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Parasites / immunology*
  • Peptides / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology


  • Cytokines
  • Helminth Proteins
  • Interleukin-6
  • Peptides