Neuroendocrine Control of the Immune Response During Helminth Infections
Pp. 3-26 (24)
Karen Nava-Castro, Julieta Ivone Castro, Elizabeth Langley and Jorge Morales-Montor
The physiological interactions during the course of the immune response to
helminths are complex. As our understanding of the neuroendocrine system grows, it has
become increasingly clear that this complex network of neurotransmitters, hormones, and
cytokines plays an important role in mediating immunity. Helminths present an especially
complex relationship between parasites and their physiological systems, with neuro and
hormone dependent host factors such as sex, age, and physiological status that correlate
with parasite success. On top of the effect that this particular type of parasite may have on
the invaded host, recent experimental evidence suggests that helminth parasites not only
actively evade immune response, but are also able to exploit the hormonal
microenvironment within their host to favor their establishment, growth and reproduction.
Additionally, the close interaction of the worm with the host’s homeostatic systems, the
molecules produced by them, and the activation of immune mediated mechanisms to
eliminate it, activate a complex neuroendocrine network, that produces strong behavioral
changes in the infected host. Understanding how the host neuroendocrine system can,
under certain circumstances, favor the establishment of a parasitic infection, opens
interesting perspectives into the host parasite relationship. This chapter focuses on the hostparasite
neuroendocrine network activated by parasitic worm infections.
Helminthes, immunoendocrine, neuroimmune, neuroimmunoendocrine,
network, parasite infections, neurotransmitters, cytokines, sex steroids, behaviors,
parasites, immune response, hormones, modulation, Th1, Th2, Th17,
Department of Immunology, Institute of Biomedical Research, U.N.A.M., AP 70228, México D.F. 04510.