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Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2015 Mar;107(3):355-61. doi: 10.1016/j.diabres.2015.01.012. Epub 2015 Jan 21.

Does Strongyloides stercoralis infection protect against type 2 diabetes in humans? Evidence from Australian Aboriginal adults.

Author information

Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services Council, PO Box 1377, Broome 6725, WA, Australia; Adjunct Research Fellow James Cook University, James Cook University, Cairns Campus, McGregor Road, Smithfield 4878, QLD, Australia. Electronic address:
Centre for Research Excellence in Chronic Disease Prevention, The Cairns Institute James Cook University, Cairns Campus, Room D3-131, McGregor Road, Smithfield 4878, QLD, Australia; Chair of Biostatistics, Sansom Institute of Health Service Research and School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of South Australia City East Campus, Centenary Building, North Terrace, Adelaide 5000, SA, Australia.
Centre for Biodiscovery and Molecular Development of Therapeutics, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, James Cook University, Cairns Campus, McGregor Road, Smithfield 4878, QLD, Australia.
Public Health Medicine, Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention, Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine, College of Public Health, Medical and Veterinary Sciences, James Cook University, PO Box 6811, Cairns 4870, QLD, Australia.



To explore the relationship between infection with Strongyloides stercoralis and the likelihood of having type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).


Cross-sectional survey of 259 Aboriginal adults living in a remote community in northern Australia during 2013. Prior infection with S. stercoralis was determined by ELISA testing on serum. Main outcomes were eosinophil count, T2DM diagnosis, HbA1c, BMI, fasting lipids, Hb, blood pressure.


Ninety two participants (36%) had prior infection with S. stercoralis and 131 (51%) had T2DM. Those with previous S. stercoralis infection (ELISA titre ≥0.3) were 61% less likely to have a diagnosis of T2DM than those uninfected, adjusted for age, triglycerides, blood pressure and BMI using propensity score (adjusted OR=0.39, 0.23-0.67, P=0.001).


In this remote community where prevalence of both S. stercoralis and T2DM is very high, infection with S. stercoralis appears to be associated with a significantly reduced risk of T2DM in adults. A plausible immunological mechanism has been identified in animal models. If confirmed, this result may have practical implications for the prevention of T2DM and associated metabolic disorders in humans. This finding should be explored further with larger longitudinal studies in transitional populations where the risk of both conditions is high.


No external funding was required for this study.


Helminth infection; Immunomodulation; Strongyloides stercoralis; Type 2 diabetes mellitus

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