Hookworm excretory/secretory products modulate immune responses to heterologous and species‐specific antigens

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Biological Sciences

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Approximately one billion people are currently infected with hookworm. Despite its high prevalence and the concomitant immune suppression seen in infected individuals, little research has been performed on the mechanism of immunosuppression by hookworm. Our study focused on characterizing mechanisms utilized by hookworm to suppress the host immune response. Splenocytes and draining lymph node cells from mice injected with hookworm excretory/secretory (ES) proteins showed decreased proliferation in response to both heterologous and species‐specific antigens while also having increased nitric oxide secretion. Analysis by fluorescence‐activated cell sorting revealed that mice injected with ES had reduced percentages of CD4+ T cells indicating potential effects of ES proteins on lymphocyte homeostasis. Antibody and cytokine response analyses demonstrated that immunization with ES proteins decreased IgG and IgG1 levels, also decreased interleukin (IL‐)‐4 and increased IL‐12 and interferon‐gamma (IFN‐γ) cytokine production suggesting impairment of B‐cell activation and a shift towards a nonhealing IL‐12 directed T helper‐1 immune response. Together, these data demonstrate for the first time that host immunosuppression by hookworms is orchestrated by ES proteins and provide mechanisms underlying the shift towards a nonhealing Th‐1 profile as seen in humans suffering from hookworm infection.


This article was originally published in Parasite Immunology. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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Parasite Immunology


© 2017 John Wiley & Sons Ltd