Weight loss helps to oust worms

Scientists from The University of Manchester have discovered that weight loss plays an important role in the body's response to fighting off intestinal worms.

The findings have been published in the journal and show that the immune system hijacks the natural feeding pathways causing weight loss. This then drives the defense mechanisms down the correct pathway to expel the worms.

Nearly one quarter of the world's population is infected with . These prevalent infections often result in a period of reduced appetite resulting in weight loss. However, little is known about the factors controlling these feeding alterations and the reason why they occur.

Scientists from the Manchester Immunology Group and the Institute of Inflammation and Repair studied the immune response system in mice that were lacking and feeding hormones. The mice were infected with the round worm parasite Trichinella spiralis.

They identified that the mouse immune response to the parasite was behind two periods of reduced feeding through two distinct immune mediators. Interestingly, the immune system was using the hormone cholecystokinin, which usually stops feeding during daily meals to cause a reduction in weight and fat deposits. This then reduced the levels of the fat produced , which can influence the immune response.

To see if this reduction in leptin was beneficial, the researchers restored the in the mice during the . They found that the treated mice did not make the correct immune response to the parasite resulting in a delayed worm expulsion.

Dr John Worthington from the Faculty of Life Sciences carried out the research: "We were quite surprised by what we found during this study. Normally weight loss is associated with a negative immune response but this appears to suggest just the opposite that the immune driven weight loss was actually beneficial to the mouse's ability to resolve an infection and get rid of the worm."

Dr Worthington continues: "Our study provides novel insights into how the immune system interacts with feeding pathways during intestinal inflammation. We hope it will help us to design new treatments for the many millions of people who suffer from parasitic infections of the gut."

Professor McLaughlin added: "This may also have relevance to why other human diseases causing inflammation of the digestive system affect appetite and nutrition".

The laboratories are currently expanding these studies to examine how other feeding hormones interact with the immune system during different infectious diseases.

More information: The paper entitled "Adaptive Immunity alters Distinct Host Feeding Pathways during Nematode Induced Inflammation, a Novel Mechanism in Parasite Expulsion" will be published in PLOS Pathogens on January 17. dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1003122

Related Stories

How the parasitic worm has turned

Jun 14, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Parasites in the gut such as whipworm have an essential role in developing a healthy immune system, University of Manchester scientists have found.

Scientists reveal how river blindness worm thrives

Aug 22, 2012

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that the worm which causes River Blindness survives by using a bacterium to provide energy, as well as help 'trick' the body's immune system into thinking it is fighting ...

Recommended for you

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

21 hours ago

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

Bacteria in caramel apples kills at least four in US

Dec 19, 2014

A listeria outbreak believed to originate from commercially packaged caramel apples has killed at least four people in the United States and sickened 28 people since November, officials said Friday.

Steroid-based treatment may answer needs of pediatric EoE patients

Dec 19, 2014

A new formulation of oral budesonide suspension, a steroid-based treatment, is safe and effective in treating pediatric patients with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), according to a new study in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the official clinical practice journal ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.