Monday, 24 December 2012

Research: worms against MS

EpubHasseldam et al. Immunomodulatory effects of helminths and protozoa in multiple sclerosis and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Parasite Immunol. 2012 Dec doi: 10.1111/pim.12023.

MS is a chronic inflammatory CNS disease, which affects about 1 in 1000 individuals in the western world. During the last couple of decades, epidemiological data has accumulated, pointing towards increases in incidence. This has been suggested to be linked to the relatively high hygiene standards that exist in the western world, with reduced exposure to various pathogens, including parasites, as a consequence. Parasites are known to employ various immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory strategies, which enable them to evade destruction by the immune system. This is most likely one of the reasons for the disease-dampening effects, reported in numerous studies investigating parasite infections and autoimmunity.

EpubKlaver et al. Trichuris suis-induced modulation of human dendritic cell function is glycan-mediated. Int J Parasitol. 2012 Dec. doi:pii: S0020-7519(12)00302-5. 10.1016/j.ijpara.2012.10.021.

Human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (DCs) show remarkable phenotypic changes upon direct contact with soluble products (SPs) of Trichuris suis, a pig whipworm that is experimentally used in therapies to ameliorate inflammation in patients with Crohn's disease and multiple sclerosis. These changes may contribute to the observed induction of a T helper 2 (Th2) response and the suppression of Toll-like receptor (TLR)-induced Th1 and Th17 responses by human DCs primed with T. suis SPs. Here it is demonstrated that glycans of T. suis SPs contribute significantly to the suppression of the LPS-induced expression in DCs of a broad variety of cytokines and chemokines, including important pro-inflammatory mediators such as TNF-α, IL-6, IL-12, LTA, CCL2, CXCL9 and CXCL10. In addition, the data show that human DCs strongly bind T. suis SP-glycans via the C-type lectin receptors (CLRs) mannose receptor (MR) and DC-specific ICAM-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN). The interaction of DCs with T. suis glycans likely involves mannose-type glycans, rather than fucosylated glycans, which differs from DC binding to soluble egg antigens of the human worm parasite, Schistosoma mansoni. In addition, macrophage galactose-type lectin (MGL) recognizes T. suis SPs, which may contribute to the interaction with immature DCs or other MGL-expressing immune cells such as macrophages. The interaction of T. suis glycans with CLRs of human DCs may be essential for the ability of T. suis to suppress a pro-inflammatory phenotype of human DCs. The finding that the T. suis-induced modulation of human DC function is glycan-mediated is novel and indicates that helminth glycans contribute to the dampening of inflammation in a wide range of human inflammatory diseases.

The idea is that if you get infected with parasitic worms it diverts your immune system in a way that is less likely to cause autoimmunity.

If you are willing to try out a worm and are in the UK, in the Nottingham Area, then there is a trial for you. I will be posting details of the WIRMS trial. This involves being infected with worms. There are other studies also investigating this aspect.

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