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Parasitic filarial nematodes infect more than 200 million individuals worldwide, causing debilitating inflammatory diseases such as river blindness and lymphatic filariasis. Using a murine model for river blindness in which soluble extracts of filarial nematodes were injected into the corneal stroma, we demonstrated that the predominant inflammatory response in the cornea was due to species of endosymbiotic Wolbachia bacteria. In addition, the inflammatory response induced by these bacteria was dependent on expression of functional Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) on host cells.
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