Epidemiologic evidence has accumulated suggesting that helminth infection or their products protect against the development of autoimmune and allergic diseases. The mechanisms underlying this protection may include regulatory cells and cytokines. Both helminth infection and allergic diseases drive the immune system toward the Th2 type response with high production of IgE. However, while this antibody response is associated with the pathogenesis of allergic diseases, IgE production in regions endemic for parasite diseases, such as schistosomiasis, might be associated with a protection against infection. In individuals chronically exposed to Schistosoma sp infection, regulatory cells and cytokines which may develop to protect the host against harmful parasite antigens may also protect the host against allergic diseases. We have demonstrated that helminthic infections are associated with a poor response to allergy skin-prick tests and with low asthma pathology. This review summarizes the immune response that is associated with the pathology of allergic diseases such as asthma and with the resistance to helminth infections. Moreover, it is discussed how helminth infection, particularly Schistosoma mansoni or their products may influence the development of atopic asthma.
Keywords: Allergy, asthma, atopy, helminths, schistosomiasis, Epidemiologic, Schistosoma mansoni, interleukin, infiltration, cytokines, basophils, cardiomyocytes
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