Helminths protect against type 1 diabetes: effects and mechanisms
Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease in which cells of the immune system destroy pancreatic β cells, which secrete insulin. The high prevalence of T1D in developed societies may be explained by environmental changes, including lower exposure to helminths. Indeed, infection by helminths such as Schistosoma, Filaria, and Heligmosomoides polygyrus and their by-products has been reported to ameliorate or prevent the development of T1D in human and animal models. Helminths can trigger distinct immune regulatory pathways, often involving adaptive immune cells that include T helper 2 (Th2) cells and regulatory T cells (Tregs) and innate immune cells that include dendritic cells, macrophages, and invariant natural killer T cells, which may act synergistically to induce Tregs in a Toll-like receptor-dependent manner. Cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-4, IL-10, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β also play an important role in protection from T1D. Herein, we provide a comprehensive review of the effects and mechanisms underlying protection against T1D by helminths.
KeywordsHelminths Type 1 diabetes Th2 Regulatory T cells
This research was funded by the Scientific Research Subject of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Wuhan Municipality (no. WX17A08), Hubei Provincial Planning Commission Joint Fund project (no. WJ2018H0129 and no. WJ2018H0040), and Hubei Provincial Natural Science Foundation project (no. 2017CFB570).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict interest.
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