Human resistance to infection by schistosomes is associated to a strong Th2 immune. However a persistent Th2 response can cause severe kidney and liver disease in human. In this review, we mainly focused on the control of infection levels caused by schistosomes. Several experimental models allowed us to better understand the immunological mechanisms of the host against schistosome infection. High IgE and eosinophil levels are associated with resistance to infection by schistosomes and this effect is counterbalanced by IgG4. IgE and eosinophils are highly dependent on IL-4, IL-13, and Il-5, which are three main Th2 cytokines. We also examined the genetic factors involved in human susceptibility to infection by schistosomiasis. Infection levels are mainly regulated by a major locus SM1, in 5q31-q33 region, which contains the genes encoding for the IL-4, IL-13, and Il-5 cytokines. An association between an IL13 polymorphism, rs1800925, and infection levels has been shown. This polymorphism synergistically acts with another polymorphism (rs324013) in the STAT6 gene, encoding for the signal transducer of the IL13 pathway. This pathway has also been involved in atopic disorders. As helminthiasis, atopy is the result of aberrant Th2 cytokine response to allergens, with an increased production of IL-4, IL-13, Il-9 and Il-5, with high amounts of allergen-specific and total IgE and eosinophilia. However, the Th2 immune response is protective in helminthiasis but aggravating in atopic disorders. Several studies reported interplay between helminthic infections and allergic reactions. The different results are discussed here.
Keywords: Schistosomiasis, Th2 immune, genetic factors, human susceptibility, polymorphism, atopic disorders, helminthiasis, helminthic infections, allergic reactions
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