Parasite infections in the developing world have been considered to promote resistance to immune-mediated diseases such as asthma. Mouse studies have shown that helminths and their products reduce the development of allergic asthma. Since epidemiologic studies that show similar protection are in relation to geohelminth infections that occur in early life, we hypothesized that the parasite-mediated protection against asthma may differ by age. Mice infected with Heligmosomoides polygyrus at 3-weeks of age had similar asthma phenotype compared to mice infected at 28-weeks of age wherein airway eosinophilia was unaltered but tissue inflammation and GC metaplasia were reduced. In contrast, mice infected at 18-weeks of age had elevated macrophagic airway inflammation with accompanying tissue pathology. The presence of γδ T cells and Treg cells in the airways was also regulated by age at worm infection. Our findings demonstrate the importance of age in immune responses that may regulate gut and lung diseases.
Keywords: Fungal asthma; Gut parasite; Inflammation.
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