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Science. 2010 Jun 11;328(5984):1391-4. doi: 10.1126/science.1187703.

Exploitation of the intestinal microflora by the parasitic nematode Trichuris muris.

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  • 1Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.


The inhabitants of the mammalian gut are not always relatively benign commensal bacteria but may also include larger and more parasitic organisms, such as worms and protozoa. At some level, all these organisms are capable of interacting with each other. We found that successful establishment of the chronically infecting parasitic nematode Trichuris muris in the large intestine of mice is dependent on microflora and coincident with modulation of the host immune response. By reducing the number of bacteria in the host animal, we significantly reduced the number of hatched T. muris eggs. Critical interactions between bacteria (microflora) and parasites (macrofauna) introduced a new dynamic to the intestinal niche, which has fundamental implications for our current concepts of intestinal homeostasis and regulation of immunity.

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