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Trends Parasitol. 2001 Apr;17(4):169-72.

Is Necator americanus approaching a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with humans?

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1
Boots Science Institute, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, NG7 2RD, Nottingham, UK. pazdp@gwmail.nottingham.ac.uk

Abstract

The hookworm Necator americanus establishes infections of impressive longevity in the immunologically hostile environment of its human host. In the process, it promotes pronounced T-helper 2 (Th2) cell activity, which in turn seemingly affords the host at least a degree of protection. Given the relatively asymptomatic nature of infection, we argue here that Necator americanus might be approaching a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with humans. In our view, infection is controlled by the immune system while being supported by a subtle immune-evasion strategy that is tolerated and possibly beneficial to the host in certain immunological circumstances, such as in counterbalancing potentially damaging Th1 responses.

PMID:
11282505
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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