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Copyright ©2008 The WJG Press and Baishideng. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Sep 7, 2008; 14(33): 5125-5132
Published online Sep 7, 2008. doi: 10.3748/wjg.14.5125
Helminth infections and intestinal inflammation
Li Jian Wang, Yue Cao, Hai Ning Shi
Li Jian Wang, Yue Cao, Hai Ning Shi, Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, Massachusetts 02129, United States
Supported by Grant DK 074727 (R21) from the National Institutes of Health; An unrestricted educational grant from Wyeth Nutrition; A research fellowship from the Research Center for High Altitude Medicine, Qinghai University Medical School, China
Correspondence to: Hai Ning Shi, DVM, PhD, Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital, Building 114 16th Street, Room 3504, Charlestown, Massa-chusetts 02129, United States.
Telephone: +1-617-7264173 Fax: +1-617-7264172
Received: August 5, 2008
Revised: August 14, 2008
Accepted: August 21, 2008
Published online: September 7, 2008

Evidence from epidemiological studies indicates an inverse correlation between the incidence of certain immune-mediated diseases, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and exposure to helminths. Helminth parasites are the classic inducers of Th2 responses. The Th2-polarized T cell response driven by helminth infection has been linked to the attenuation of some damaging Th1 driven inflammatory responses, preventing some Th1-mediated autoimmune diseases in the host, including experimentally induced colitis. Helminth parasites (the porcine whipworm, Trichuris suis) have been tested for treating IBD patients, resulting in clinical amelioration of the disease. As a result, there is a great deal of interest in the research community in exploring the therapeutic use of helminth parasites for the control of immune-mediated diseases, including IBD. However, recent studies have provided evidence indicating the exacerbating effects of helminths on bacterial as well as non-infectious colitis in animal models. Therefore, a better understanding of mechanisms by which helminths modulate host immune responses in the gut may reveal novel, more effective and safer approaches to helminth-based therapy of IBD.

Keywords: Helminths, Innate and adaptive immunity, Intestinal inflammation