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J Immunol. 2002 Sep 15;169(6):3284-92.

An enteric helminth infection protects against an allergic response to dietary antigen.

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Mucosal Immunology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


Although helminths induce a polarized Th2 response they have been shown, in clinical studies, to confer protection against allergies. To elucidate the basis for this paradox, we have examined the influence of an enteric helminth infection on a model of food allergy. Upon Ag challenge, mice fed peanut (PN) extract plus the mucosal adjuvant cholera toxin (CT) produced PN-specific IgE that correlated with systemic anaphylactic symptoms and elevated plasma histamine. PN-specific IgE was not induced in helminth-infected mice fed PN without CT. Moreover, when PN plus CT was fed to helminth-infected mice, both PN-specific IgE and anaphylactic symptoms were greatly diminished. The down-regulation of PN-specific IgE was associated with a marked reduction in the secretion of IL-13 by PN-specific T cells. When helminth-infected PN plus CT-sensitized mice were treated with neutralizing Abs to IL-10, the PN-specific IgE response and anaphylactic symptoms were similar to, or greater than, those seen in mice that receive PN and CT alone. Taken together, these results suggest that helminth-dependent protection against allergic disease involves immunoregulatory mechanisms that block production of allergen-specific IgE.

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