Kristen Sparrow • April 02, 2020
This article is related to research and I might as well publish it here. It has to do with my interest in immunology and how acupuncture affects it. Cestodes may give some insight.
Helminth parasites are masters of immune regulation; a likely prerequisite for long-term survival by circumventing their hosts’ attempt to eradicate them. From a translational perspective, knowledge of immune events as a response to infection with a helminth parasite could be used to reduce the intensity of unwanted inflammatory reactions. Substantial data have accumulated showing that inflammatory reactions that promote a variety of auto-inflammatory diseases are dampened as a consequence of infection with helminth parasites, via either the mobilization of an anti-worm spectrum of immune events or by the direct effect of secretory/excretory bioactive immunomodulatory molecules released from the parasite. However, many issues are outstanding in the definition of the mechanism(s) by which infection with helminth parasites can affect the outcome, positively or negatively, of concomitant disease. We focus on a subgroup of this complex group of metazoan parasites, the cestodes, summarizing studies from rodent models that illustrate if, and by what mechanisms, infection with tapeworms ameliorate or exaggerate disease in their host. The ability of infection with cestodes, or other classes of helminth, to worsen a disease course or confer susceptibility to intracellular pathogens should be carefully considered in the context of ‘helminth therapy’. In addition, poorly characterised cestode extracts can regulate murine and human immunocyte function, yet the impact of these in the context of autoimmune or allergic diseases is poorly understood. Thus, studies with cestodes, as representative helminths, have helped cement the concept that infection with parasitic helminths can inhibit concomitant disease; however, issues relating to long-term effects, potential side-effects, mixed pathogen infections and purification of immunomodulatory molecules from the parasite remain as challenges that need to be addressed in order to achieve the use of helminths as anti-inflammatory agents for human diseases.