Unraveling Ascaris suum experimental infection in humans

Microbes Infect. 2021 Sep-Oct;23(8):104836. doi: 10.1016/j.micinf.2021.104836. Epub 2021 May 19.


Ascaris lumbricoides and Ascaris suum are two closely related parasites that infect humans and pigs. The zoonotic potential of A. suum has been a matter of debate for decades. Here we sought to investigate the potential human infection by A. suum and its immunological alterations. We orally infected five healthy human subjects with eggs embraced by A. suum. The infection was monitored for symptoms and possible respiratory changes, by an interdisciplinary health team. Parasitological, hematological analyses, serum immunoglobulin, cytokine profiles, and gene expression were evaluated during the infection. Our results show that A. suum is able to infect and complete the cycle in humans causing A. lumbricoides similar symptoms, including, cough, headache, diarrhea, respiratory discomfort and chest x-ray alterations coinciding with larvae migration in the lungs. We also observed activation of the immune system with production of IgM and IgG and a Th2/Th17 response with downregulation of genes related to Th1 and apoptosis. PCA (Principal componts analysis) show that infection with A. suum leads to a change in the immune landscape of the human host. Our data reinforce the zoonotic capacity of A. suum and bring a new perspective on the understanding of the immune response against this parasite.

Keywords: Ascariasis; Ascaris suum; Host–parasite relationships; Human infection; Larval migration; Th2/Th17 responses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ascariasis* / parasitology
  • Ascaris suum* / physiology
  • Humans
  • Larva / physiology
  • Swine
  • Swine Diseases*