The Potential Role of Schistosome-Associated Factors as Therapeutic Modulators of the Immune System

Infect Immun. 2020 Jul 21;88(8):e00754-19. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00754-19. Print 2020 Jul 21.


The parasites and eggs of helminths, including schistosomes, are associated with factors that can modulate the nature and outcomes of host immune responses, particularly enhancing type 2 immunity and impairing the effects of type 1 and type 17 immunity. The main species of schistosomes that cause infection in humans are capable of generating a microenvironment that allows survival of the parasite by evasion of the immune response. Schistosome infections are associated with beneficial effects on chronic immune disorders, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, and alloimmune responses. Recently, there has been increasing research interest in the role of schistosomes in immunoregulation during human infection, and the mechanisms underlying these roles continue to be investigated. Further studies may identify potential opportunities to develop new treatments for immune disease. In this review, we provide an update on the advances in our understanding of schistosome-associated modulation of the cells of the innate and adaptive immune systems as well as the potential role of schistosome-associated factors as therapeutic modulators of immune disorders, including allergies, autoimmune diseases, and transplant immunopathology. We also discuss potential opportunities for targeting schistosome-induced immunoregulation for future translation to the clinical setting.

Keywords: immune disorders; immune therapy; immunomodulation; schistosome; type 2 helper T cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / parasitology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / pathology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity / parasitology
  • Hypersensitivity / pathology
  • Hypersensitivity / therapy*
  • Immune Evasion
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Immunomodulation
  • Immunotherapy / methods
  • Organ Transplantation / rehabilitation
  • Schistosoma japonicum / chemistry
  • Schistosoma japonicum / immunology*
  • Schistosoma mansoni / chemistry
  • Schistosoma mansoni / immunology*
  • Schistosomiasis / immunology
  • Schistosomiasis / parasitology
  • Schistosomiasis / pathology
  • Schistosomiasis / therapy*
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / parasitology
  • Th17 Cells / immunology
  • Th17 Cells / parasitology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / parasitology
  • Zygote / chemistry
  • Zygote / immunology


  • Immunologic Factors