The effects of helminth infections against type 2 diabetes

Parasitol Res. 2021 Jun;120(6):1935-1942. doi: 10.1007/s00436-021-07189-6. Epub 2021 May 18.


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D) is a prevalent inflammation-related disease characterized by insulin resistance and elevated blood glucose levels. The high incidence rate of T2D in Western societies may be due to environmental conditions, including reduced worm exposure. In human and animal models, some helminths, such as Schistosoma, Nippostrongylus, Strongyloides, and Heligmosomoides, and their products reportedly ameliorate or prevent T2D progression. T2D induces adaptive immune pathways involved in the inhibition of type 1 immune responses, promotion of type 2 immune responses, and expansion of regulatory T cells and innate immune cells, such as macrophages, eosinophils, and group 2 innate lymphoid cells. Among immune cells expanded in T2DM, type 2 immune cells and macrophages are the most important and may have synergistic effects. The stimulation of host immunity by helminth infections also promotes interactions between the innate and adaptive immune systems. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive review of intestinal helminths' protective effects against T2D.

Keywords: Helminths; Macrophages; Type 2 diabetes; Type 2 immune response.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity*
  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications*
  • Helminthiasis / complications*
  • Helminthiasis / immunology
  • Helminths / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*