Evolutionary medicine argues that disease can arise because modern conditions do not match those in which we evolved. For example, a decline in exposure to commensal microbes and gastrointestinal helminths in developed countries has been linked to increased prevalence of allergic and autoimmune inflammatory disorders (the hygiene hypothesis). Accordingly, probiotic therapies that restore 'old friend' microbes and helminths have been explored as Darwinian treatments for these disorders. A further possibility is that loss of old friend commensals also increases the sterile, aging-associated inflammation known as inflammaging, which contributes to a range of age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer. Interestingly, Crowe et al., 2020 recently reported that treatment with a secreted glycoprotein from a parasitic nematode can protect against murine aging by induction of anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Here, we explore the hypothesis that restorative helminth therapy would have anti-inflammaging effects. Could worm infections provide broad-spectrum protection against age-related disease?
Keywords: aging; evolutionary medicine; helminth therapy; hygiene hypothesis; immunology; inflammaging; inflammation; old friends.
© 2021, Zhang and Gems.