A new study has identified the master regulator that maintains a healthy gut and limits damage by parasitic whipworms. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and collaborators have revealed that the interleukin 10 receptor (IL-10R) is critical to prevent uncontrolled whipworm infection in mice and a damaging immune response in the gut.
The study, published today in PLOS Pathogens, helps with understanding the signalling mechanism that maintains a balance between the host, whipworms and gut bacteria. Unravelling this signalling mechanism will help scientists understand immune response to other parasites and will shed light on pathways that could be involved in the control of other diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and allergies.
The gut is home to millions of bacteria, known as the microbiota, and also to parasites such as whipworms. The human whipworm – Trichuris trichiura – infects approximately 500 million people globally, causing the neglected tropical disease Trichuriasis, and has evolved over millennia to infect the intestines and reproduce there.
The health of the host is important for a parasite, as it needs a live host to survive and reproduce. The researchers found that the worm, the gut, the immune system and the microbiota form a finely balanced ecosystem.
Read more at Wellcome Sanger Institute