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Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. 2004;99(5 Suppl 1):27-32. Epub 2004 Oct 13.

Schistosoma mansoni infection modulates the immune response against allergic and auto-immune diseases.

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Serviço de Imunologia, Hospital Universitario Prof. Edgard Santos, Instituto de Investigação em Imunologia, Universidade Federal da Bahia, Rua João das Botas s/n, 5o. andar, 40110-160 Salvador, BA, Brazil.


Chronic Schistosoma mansoni infection leads to a type 2-immune response with increased production of interleukin (IL-10). Evidence indicates chronic exposure to S. mansoni down regulates the type 1 immune response and prevents the onset of Th1-mediated diseases such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus and Crohn's disease. Furthermore, our own studies have revealed that chronic exposure to S. mansoni also down regulates atopic disease, Th2-mediated diseases. Our studies show an inverse association between the skin prick test reactivity and infection with S. mansoni and show the severity of asthma is reduced in subjects living in an endemic area of S. mansoni. Moreover, we hypothesize the mechanisms involved in the modulation of inflammatory response in atopic individuals, is likely dependent on IL-10 production, an anti-inflammatory cytokine elevated during helminth infections. Patients with asthma and helminth infections produced less IL-5 than patients with asthma without helminth infections, and this down regulation could, in part, be mediated by IL-10. In conclusion, helminthic infections, through induction of regulatory mechanisms, such as IL-10 production, are able to modulate the inflammatory immune response involved in the pathology of auto-immune and allergic disease.

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