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vol. 55

Tuftsin-phosphorylcholine treatment of autoimmune diseases – a benefit and a message from helminths?

Maria Maślińska
Fabrizio de Luca
Kassem Sharif

Reumatologia 2017; 55, 6: 267-268
Online publish date: 2017/12/30
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The improvement of hygiene quality, especially in highly developed countries, has brought medical benefits, such as limiting the spread of infections. Yet, at the same time, this situation may create potential new threats, as we are still pondering whether contact with previously common infections can prevent or precipitate autoimmune diseases.
As we learn more and more about the importance of proper intestinal microbiome for maintaining the stability of the human immune system, it seems that in this respect even parasites infestation may have a beneficial effect. Helminths play role in inhibiting the inflammatory activity of many diseases with autoimmune background, such as inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and systemic lupus erythematosus [1, 2].
Studies confirmed, working mainly with animal models, that helminth infections can modulate mammalian immune response by inhibition of interferon (IFN-) and interleukin 17 (IL-17) production, promotion of IL-4, IL-10, and TGF- release, induction of CD4(+) T regulatory cell FoxP3+ expression and generating regulatory macrophages, dendritic cells, and B cells [1, 3]. Earlier, it was noted that in geographic areas with high frequency of worm infections fewer autoimmune diseases and atopic disorders were observed [2]. Furthermore, eradication of the infection caused an increase in the incidence of autoimmune diseases. The search for immunomodulatory effects of helminths led to the introduction of treatment with helminths and their ova in autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and even multiple sclerosis (MS) [4].
Helminths, to survive in the host, modulate the host’s immune response, so as to protect both the host and themselves from situations that overwhelm the autotolerance. This results in inhibition of inflammatory processes and autoimmune diseases. It means that by immunomodulation helminths strive to preserve the host immunobalance, i.e. its environment. The influence of microbiome disturbances on the development of autoimmune diseases has already been established; helminths also modulate the intestinal flora by moving its balance in favour of “probiotic” microorganisms [5].
It was shown that the beneficial effect of helminths is not specific to any single helminth species. The immunomodulatory effect of helminths is attributed to the phosphorylcholine (PC) molecule because the...

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