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Infect Immun. 2018 Dec 19;87(1). pii: e00291-18. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00291-18. Print 2019 Jan.

Gene Expression Differences in Host Response to Schistosoma haematobium Infection.

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Center for Global Health, Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA
Center for Global Health, Department of Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA.
National Institute for Medical Research-Mwanza Research Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania.
Department of Medicine, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences, Mwanza, Tanzania.
Department of Cell and Chemical Biology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Department of Parasitology, Leiden University Medical Center, Leiden, the Netherlands.
Genomics Resources Core Facility, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York, New York, USA.
Department of Medicine, Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania.


Schistosome worms infect over 200 million people worldwide. They live in the host's bloodstream and alter host immunity. Epidemiological data suggest that males and females have different responses to schistosome infection, but the effect of sex on systemic response is undetermined. Our objective was to characterize differences in peripheral blood transcriptional profiles in people with or without active Schistosoma haematobium infection and to determine whether this signature differs between males and females. mRNA was isolated using poly(A) selection and sequenced on an Illumina Hi-Seq4000 platform. Transcripts were aligned to the human hg19 reference genome and counted with the HTSeq package. Genes were compared for differential expression using DESeq2. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) was used to identify gene networks altered in the presence of S. haematobium We enrolled 33 participants from villages in rural Tanzania where S. haematobium is endemic. After correction for multiple comparisons, we observed 383 differentially expressed genes between those with or without S. haematobium infection when sex was included as a covariate. Heat-mapping of the genes with >1.5-fold differences in gene expression revealed clustering by S. haematobium infection status. The top networks included development, cell death and survival, cell signaling, and immunologic disease pathways. We observed a distinct whole blood transcriptional profile, as well as differences in men and women, with S. haematobium infection. Additional studies are needed to determine the clinical effects of these divergent responses. Attention to sex-based differences should be included in studies of human schistosome infection.


schistosomiasis; transcriptomics

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