Harnessing Schistosoma-associated metabolite changes in the human host to identify biomarkers of infection and morbidity: Where are we and what should we do next?

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2024 Mar 21;18(3):e0012009. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0012009. eCollection 2024 Mar.


Schistosomiasis is the second most widespread parasitic disease affecting humans. A key component of today's infection control measures is the diagnosis and monitoring of infection, informing individual- and community-level treatment. However, newly acquired infections and/or low parasite burden are still difficult to diagnose reliably. Furthermore, even though the pathological consequence of schistosome egg sequestration in host tissues is well described, the evidence linking egg burden to morbidity is increasingly challenged, making it inadequate for pathology monitoring. In the last decades, omics-based instruments and methods have been developed, adjusted, and applied in parasitic research. In particular, the profiling of the most reliable determinants of phenotypes, metabolites by metabolomics, emerged as a powerful boost in the understanding of basic interactions within the human host during infection. As such, the fine detection of host metabolites produced upon exposure to parasites such as Schistosoma spp. and the ensuing progression of the disease are believed to enable the identification of Schistosoma spp. potential biomarkers of infection and associated pathology. However, attempts to provide such a comprehensive understanding of the alterations of the human metabolome during schistosomiasis are rare, limited in their design when performed, and mostly inconclusive. In this review, we aimed to briefly summarize the most robust advances in knowledge on the changes in host metabolic profile during Schistosoma infections and provide recommendations for approaches to optimize the identification of metabolomic signatures of human schistosomiasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Metabolome
  • Morbidity
  • Schistosoma* / genetics
  • Schistosomiasis* / parasitology


  • Biomarkers

Grants and funding

Financial support was received for several research projects that led to the unveiling of insights that enabled the development of this review article. Namely, a Merck KGaA Global Health Institute research grant to JKN that supported salary (JKN) and fellowships (LMK and MK); a FLAIR Fellowship Program grant FLR\R1\191058 (a partnership between the African Academy of Sciences and the Royal Society funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund) to JKN that also supported salary (JKN) and fellowships (SDK, LMK and MK); a collaborative research Grant FCG/R1/211036 from the UK Royal Society through the University of Glasgow to PHLL and JKN that further supported fellowships (LMK and MK). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.