Immune Regulation of Metabolic Homeostasis by Helminths and Their Molecules

Trends Parasitol. 2019 Oct;35(10):795-808. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2019 Sep 3.


Since time immemorial, humans have coevolved with a wide variety of parasitic helminths that have contributed to shape their immune system. The recent eradication of helminth infections in modern societies has coincided with a spectacular rise in inflammatory metabolic diseases, such as obesity, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and type 2 diabetes. Landmark studies in the emerging field of immunometabolism have highlighted the central role of the immune system in regulating metabolic functions, notably in adipose tissue, liver, and the gut. In this review we discuss how helminths, which are among the strongest natural inducers of type 2 immunity, and some of their unique immunomodulatory molecules, may contribute to the maintenance of tissue-specific and whole-body metabolic homeostasis and protection against obesity-associated meta-inflammation.

Keywords: immunometabolism; meta-inflammation; obesity; parasites; type 2 diabetes; type 2 immune response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Helminthiasis / immunology
  • Helminths / immunology*
  • Homeostasis / immunology*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / parasitology
  • Metabolic Diseases / immunology*
  • Metabolic Diseases / parasitology*
  • Obesity / parasitology