(Medical Xpress) -- Short-term infection with intestinal worms may provide long-term protection against type I diabetes (TID), suggests a study conducted by William Gause, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School. The research has been published in the journal Mucosal Immunology.
The incidence of TIDa form of the disease in which the bodys own immune cells attack the insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreasis relatively low in developing countries. One explanation for this phenomenon is the prevalence of chronic intestinal worm infections, which dampen the self-aggressive T cells that cause diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. Understanding how T cells are tamed during worm infection could lead to new strategies to control these inflammatory diseases.
Dr. Gauses team, including Pankaj Mishra, PhD, in his laboratory, and David Bleich, MD, now shows that a two-week infection with the intestinal worm H. polygyrus (cured using oral drugs) prompted T cells to produce the cytokines interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-10, which acted independently to provide lasting protection against TID in mice. A similar approach using eggs from another parasitic worm, Trichuris suis, is currently being tested in clinical trials in patients with Crohns disease and multiple sclerosis. The studies presented in this paper now provide potential mechanisms explaining the potency of parasite-induced control of inflammatory diseases.