Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are chronic health problems of difficult management and treatment. Epidemiological studies indicate an inverse association between helminth infections and IBD, and experimental data confirm that helminth infections modulate the severity of experimental acute colitis in mice. However, the effects of helminth infections on chronic colitis, which is clinically more relevant, have been poorly explored. Herein, we investigated whether Strongyloides venezuelensis infection in BALB/c mice can ameliorate chronic colitis induced by the ingestion of water containing 2.5% Dextran Sodium Sulfate (DSS) over three seven-day treatment cycles, with an interval of fourteen days between cycles. Infected-only, DSS-exposed-only, and non-exposed/uninfected experimental groups served as controls for comparing the severity of colitis and intestinal inflammation among different groups. Our data showed that S. venezuelensis infection in mice with DSS-induced chronic colitis reduced clinical signs, attenuated colon shortening and inflammation, and prevented mucus ablation. The modulatory effect was accompanied by a low concentration of IFN-γ, high concentrations of TGF-β, IL-22, and IL-33 in the colon, and a significant increase of the percentage of CD4+CD25+Foxp3+ Treg cells in the mesenteric lymph node (MLN). In conclusion, S. venezuelensis infection can reduce the severity of DSS-induced chronic colitis in mice possibly through the stimulation of Treg cells and modulatory cytokines, and induction of mucosal repair mechanisms.
Keywords: Chronic colitis; Immunoregulation; Strongyloides venezuelensis.
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