Helminths, hygiene hypothesis and type 2 diabetes

Parasite Immunol. 2017 May;39(5). doi: 10.1111/pim.12404. Epub 2017 Mar 22.


Worldwide, there is little overlap between the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminths and type 2 diabetes (T2D). Helminth-induced type 2 immune responses and immune regulatory network might modulate the obesity-induced activation of inflammatory pathways that are associated with the development of insulin resistance, a strong predictor of the development of T2D. However, other factors such as helminth-associated changes in adiposity and gut microbiome might also contribute to improved metabolic outcomes. In this review, we summarize epidemiological evidence for the link between helminths and T2D and discuss the potential mechanisms, based on findings from experimental studies as well as the limited number of studies in humans.

Keywords: helminths; human; hygiene hypothesis; insulin resistance; metabolic disease; type 2 diabetes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / parasitology*
  • Helminthiasis / complications*
  • Helminthiasis / immunology
  • Helminths / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hygiene Hypothesis*