Immunity to Soil-Transmitted Helminths: Evidence from the Field and Laboratory Models

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Infection with soil-transmitted helminths (STH) remains a major burden on global health and agriculture. Our understanding of the immunological mechanisms that govern whether an individual is resistant or susceptible to infection is derived primarily from model infections in rodents. Typically, experimental infections employ an artificially high, single bolus of parasites that leads to rapid expulsion of the primary infection and robust immunity to subsequent challenges. However, immunity in natura is generated slowly, and is only partially effective, with individuals in endemic areas retaining low-level infections throughout their lives. Therefore, there is a gap between traditional model STH systems and observations in the field. Here, we review the immune response to traditional model STH infections in the laboratory. We compare these data to studies of natural infection in humans and rodents in endemic areas, highlighting crucial differences between experimental and natural infection. We then detail the literature to data on the use of ‘trickle’ infections to experimentally model the kinetics of natural infection.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2020


  • Trichuris muris
  • trickle infection
  • Th2 immunity
  • Heligmosomoides bakeri


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