Fasciola hepatica is a zoonotic parasite that not only economically burdens the agribusiness sector, but also infects up to 1 million people worldwide, with no commercial vaccine yet available. An ideal vaccine would induce protection in the gut, curtailing the extensive tissue damage associated with parasite's migration from the gut to the bile ducts. The design of such a vaccine requires greater knowledge of gut mucosal responses during the early stage of infection. We examined total mRNA expression of the peyer's patches at 6 and 18 h post F. hepatica infection using RNA sequencing. Differential expression analysis revealed 1341 genes upregulated and 61 genes downregulated at 6 h post infection, while 1562 genes were upregulated and 10 genes downregulated after 18 h. Gene-set enrichment analysis demonstrated that immune specific biological processes were amongst the most downregulated. The Toll-like receptor pathway in particular was significantly affected, the suppression of which is a well-documented immune evasive strategy employed by F. hepatica. In general, the genes identified were associated with suppression of inflammatory responses, helminth induced immune responses and tissue repair/homeostasis. This study provides a rich catalogue of the genes expressed in the early stages of F. hepatica infection, adding to the understanding of early host-parasite interactions and assisting in the design of future studies that look to advance the development of a novel F. hepatica vaccine.
Keywords: F. hepatica infection; Gut; Immune responses; Peyer’s patches; RNA seq analysis.
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