Editors' ChoicePUBLIC HEALTH

Worms remodel immune responsiveness

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Science  04 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6312, pp. 594
DOI: 10.1126/science.354.6312.594-a

Ascaris lumbricoides is a common parasite of humans.


Rural populations in less developed countries commonly show poor immunogenicity in vaccination programs. Helminth infestations remain common in some rural areas, and cellular immune hyporesponsiveness is a hallmark of chronic helminth infections. Community deworming programs are in general believed to be a good thing to reverse the morbidity that a large worm burden can impose on children. Wammes et al. set up a 2-year clinical trial to systematically test the immunological consequences of deworming in >1000 villagers in Indonesia. After treatment, subjects showed significant immune remodeling, with reduced expression of CTLA-4 (cytotoxin T lymphocyte–associated antigen 4) and elevated proinflammatory cytokine responses to malaria parasite antigens. The challenge in the longer term could be that restored immune responsiveness might increase the prevalence of inflammatory diseases.

Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 10.1073/pnas.1604570113 (2016).

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