Mast cell deficiency in mice results in biomass overgrowth and delayed expulsion of the rat tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta

Biosci Rep. 2018 Nov 30;38(6):BSR20180687. doi: 10.1042/BSR20180687. Print 2018 Dec 21.


Infection with helminth parasites evokes a complex cellular response in the host, where granulocytes (i.e. eosinophils, basophils and mast cells (MCs)) feature prominently. In addition to being used as markers of helminthic infections, MCs have been implicated in worm expulsion since animals defective in c-kit signaling, which results in diminished MC numbers, can have delayed worm expulsion. The role of MCs in the rejection of the rat tapeworm, Hymenolepsis diminuta, from the non-permissive mouse host is not known. MC-deficient mice display a delay in the expulsion of H. diminuta that is accompanied by a less intense splenic Th2 response, as determined by in vitro release of interleukin (IL)-4, IL-5 and IL-13 cytokines. Moreover, worms retrieved from MC-deficient mice were larger than those from wild-type (WT) mice. Assessment of gut-derived IL-25, IL-33, thymic stromal lymphopoietin revealed lower levels in uninfected MC-deficient mice compared with WT, suggesting a role for MCs in homeostatic control of these cytokines: differences in these gut cytokines between the mouse strains were not observed after infection with H. diminuta Finally, mice infected with H. diminuta display less severe dinitrobenzene sulphonic acid (DNBS)-induced colitis, and this beneficial effect of the worm was unaltered in MC-deficient mice challenged with DNBS, as assessed by a macroscopic disease score. Thus, while MCs are not essential for rejection of H. diminuta from mice, their absence slows the kinetics of expulsion allowing the development of greater worm biomass prior to successful rejection of the parasitic burden.

Keywords: Cestode; Hymenolepis diminuta; Mast cells; Th2.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomass
  • Cestode Infections / immunology*
  • Cestode Infections / parasitology
  • Colitis / chemically induced
  • Colitis / immunology*
  • Colitis / parasitology
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene / analogs & derivatives
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene / toxicity
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hymenolepis diminuta / immunology
  • Hymenolepis diminuta / pathogenicity
  • Mast Cells / immunology*
  • Mast Cells / parasitology
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Spleen / parasitology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / parasitology


  • 2,4-dinitrofluorobenzene sulfonic acid
  • Dinitrofluorobenzene

Grant support