Cell Type-Specific Immunomodulation Induced by Helminthes: Effect on Metainflammation, Insulin Resistance and Type-2 Diabetes

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2017 Dec;97(6):1650-1661. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.17-0236. Epub 2017 Oct 26.


Recent epidemiological studies have documented an inverse relationship between the decreasing prevalence of helminth infections and the increasing prevalence of metabolic diseases ("metabolic hygiene hypothesis"). Chronic inflammation leading to insulin resistance (IR) has now been identified as a major etiological factor for a variety of metabolic diseases other than obesity and Type-2 diabetes (metainflammation). One way by which helminth infections such as filariasis can modulate IR is by inducing a chronic, nonspecific, low-grade, immune suppression mediated by modified T-helper 2 (Th2) response (induction of both Th2 and regulatory T cells) which can in turn suppress the proinflammatory responses and promote insulin sensitivity (IS). This article provides evidence on how the cross talk between the innate and adaptive arms of the immune responses can modulate IR/sensitivity. The cross talk between innate (macrophages, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, natural killer T cells, myeloid derived suppressor cells, innate lymphoid cells, basophils, eosinophils, and neutrophils) and adaptive (helper T [CD4+] cells, cytotoxic T [CD8+] cells and B cells) immune cells forms two opposing circuits, one associated with IR and the other associated with IS under the conditions of metabolic syndrome and helminth-mediated immunomodulation, respectively.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / parasitology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Helminthiasis / immunology*
  • Helminths
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / parasitology
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Obesity / immunology*
  • Obesity / parasitology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer / immunology