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Trends Parasitol. 2012 Mar;28(3):93-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2012 Jan 16.

Life on the edge: the balance between macrofauna, microflora and host immunity.

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Manchester Immunology Group, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK.


Mammals, microflora and gut-dwelling macrofauna have co-evolved over many millions of years until relatively recently when the geographical prevalence of macrofauna in humans has become restricted to the developing world. Immune homeostasis relies on a balance in the composition of intestinal microflora; long-lived macrofauna have also been shown to regulate immune function, and their absence in Western lifestyles is suggested to be a factor for the increasing frequency of allergy and autoimmunity. The intestinal nematode Trichuris muris was recently demonstrated to utilise microflora to initiate its life cycle. The interdependence on one another of all three factors is such that when the balance is perturbed it must be realigned or the consequences may be detrimental to the mammalian host.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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