Helminth-M. Tb Co-Infection

  • Nelita du PlessisEmail author
  • Gerhard Walzl
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 828)


Tuberculosis (TB) and helminthiasis are each responsible for a high public health burden in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where approximately one third of the population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the greatest number of helminth infections occur. M. tb infection is classically described as a TH1 pathology and there is much interest in exploring how concurrent worm infections might alter immune responses to mycobacterial infections. In the mammalian host, polarised mycobacterium-specific TH1 immune responses correlate with protection, whereas helminth infection induces TH2 immunity. Theoretically, immunomodulation elicited by helminths could attenuate host immune responses against a concomitant mycobacterial infection. Our current understanding of the immunology of helminth infections suggests that interaction with anti-TB immune responses could exacerbate the effects of M. tb infection. Although preliminary results suggest that helminth infections might alter immune responses against bacilli, necessitating altered therapeutic approaches, the full impact of helminth-induced immune responses on the development of protective immunity to mycobacteria remains ambiguous and the implication of helminth co-infection on the natural and vaccine-induced protection against major infectious diseases remains complex and requires further investigation.


Helminth Mycobacterium Co-infection Tuberculosis Immunomodulation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biomedical Sciences, Division Molecular Biology and Human Genetics, DST/NRF, Centre of Excellence in Biomedical TB ResearchStellenbosch UniversityCape TownSouth Africa

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