What shoots our immune system into fighting mode when a parasitic infection exists in the gut? New research discovers that specialised cells known as tuft cells have an important role—by “tasting” the existence of intestinal parasites and putting our immune system into motion, fighting against them.
The study, mentioned in an article published on the 2nd of February 2016 in Science, is vital, said senior author Wendy Garrett, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher. Having more knowledge about the interaction between tuft cells and our immune system might help scientists around the world come up with new ways to treat diseases caused by parasites such as roundworm, giardiasis and hookworm, which affect several of people worldwide— especially children—which cause symptoms such as nausea , diarrhea, bloating, vomiting and pain, and could also contribute to weight loss as well as malnutrition.
Scientists already have a good background tuft cells, which have firm bristles and branch out from the intestinal wall in batches, since the mid-1950s. But until recently their job has been vague.
Garrett’s study gave new information on tuft cells. “It’s pretty cool that three groups revealed different information about these cells at the same time, by coincidence,” she said. “We all found that tuft cells have a crucial role in our immune system.”
Garrett’s research lab focuses on the interaction between our gastrointestinal immune system and the microbes and parasites that thrive in the gut in health, inflammatory bowel disease, and colorectal cancer. Her team demonstrated that eventhough tuft cells don’t really “taste” things, they use a process known as “taste chemosensation.” This is very similar to the process by which our tongue taste buds spot different flavors. In the gut, such a process permits tuft cells to detect various parasites such as helminths (worms) and protozoa, and to then send out signals to other cells to start an immune response.
The researchers were able to locate tuft cells’ function by relating two groups of mice infected with parasites. The mice in one group did not have key proteins that tuft cells utilise to send messages to other cells. Five weeks later, the mice that lacked the protein had additional worms than the other mice. The normal mice also created extra tuft cells and had higher levels of a protein which triggers immune responses to parasites (interleukin-25).
Infections which are usually caused by helminthes as well as protozoa are usually treated with antiparasitic medicines. The new finding however could help lead to alternative treatments, Garrett mentioned. “If we can have a good understanding out how to engage ‘taste chemosensation’ in tuft cells—in principle, to understand what the parasites are generating that tuft cells ‘taste’—there is a chance we could help improve the immune system,” she mentioned.
Garrett also said that she is enthusiastic about the implications of their new results. “That parasite-derived molecules can actually be tasted—and that tuft cells in the gut do this—gives us new perspective about how our organisms interact with the microbes in our world,” she mentioned.
Parasites are a lot of prevalent than we expect. Affecting travellers and non-travellers alike, they could rob us of energy and harm our biological process functions.
Parasites occur not solely in developing countries or in people who have traveled extensively. 85 % of North Americans have a minimum of one kind of parasite and authorities believe that the accurate figure could also be as high as 95%. This implies nobody is totally immune from parasitic infestation.
What precisely constitutes a parasite? A parasite is outlined as any organism that can live on, or inside the body of another organism. In humans, parasites can prey on our cells, the food we eat, and even on the supplements we tend to take. They vary in size from microscopic noncellular organisms to tapeworms that may be up to twelve metres long. No matter the size of the parasite, all could cause harm to the human body.
Typical Symptoms and Possible Sources
Parasites typically mimic different disorders or yield no noticeable symptoms in any respect. once they do cause symptoms, a large range could be displayed. the foremost common symptoms include:
gas, bloating, and cramps
persistent skin issues
dark circles beneath the eyes
Parasites could have an effect on tissue anywhere in the body. several disorders are related to them, including arthritis, appendicitis, weight issues, cancer, and epilepsy. Parasites could enter the blood, so that they are able to travel to any organ in the body. This could cause issues that are usually unrecognized as parasite-related and might lead to an incorrect diagnosis. Parasites cause harm not only once they prey on our cells, but also after they discharge their waste in our bodies. This waste then poisons the body and weakens the immune system.
Parasites will enter the body through the mouth, the nose, or be absorbed through the skin. they’ll even be transmitted via insect carriers. Because exposure to those carriers may also cause a condition referred to as candida (an overgrowth of yeast within the enteric tract), candida and parasites usually tend to appear with each other.
Parasites can survive in a non-healthy internal environment. For our intestinal tract and colon to remain healthy, there should be a balance of “bad” and “good” bacteria. Once the optimal quantitative relation (80:20) is disrupted, the intestinal setting becomes prone to parasite infestation. Factors that contribute the imbalance vary from chemicals such as antibiotics, steroids and others, to a diet too high in refined carbohydrates.
So the question now is, how could we get rid of parasites and what can we do to stay safe? Our first recommendation is to always take care on what you eat. Another thing you can do is to take the right precautions when traveling to a destination that is known of “hosting” specific types of parasites. Lastly, ensure that you boost your immune system by having a balanced and nutritious diet!
At Parasitology Center we offer our popular Freedom, Cleanse, Restore formula that can help you defend your body from factors causing intestinal imbalance, filter and cleanse the colon from toxins while promoting regularity and support the ongoing integrity of damaged tissues.
Swimming pools usually contain several infectious parasites that utilize water to transfer to new hosts. Albeit attempts to disinfect and clean out swimming pools, several parasites might still lurk inside the water, posing several health hazards to humans.
Majority of the parasites found in swimming pools but also in health spas and pools derive from gastrointestinal tracts and then arrive by fecal contamination. The parasites could also be washed off from a dirty anus. These small, single-cell parasites known as Cryptosporidium and Giardia are the major cause of swimming pool-related gastroenteritis and since they are resistant to chlorine, they are particularly suited to waterborne transmission.
Place in body part
Sadly, illness-inducing micro-organisms usually use water to move onto new hosts. In addition to this, most waterborne outbreaks are not properly identified.
Less than 10% of contaminated people visit their doctor and most of them don’t submit their samples for carrying out a lab testing.
Furthermore, most of these organisms are difficult to detect in water since they might have disappeared by the time the investigation is carried out.
A tiny amount of contaminated fecal could be just enough to infect a handful of swimmers. These parasites could cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss, dehydration, fever, nausea and even vomiting.
Some other types of virus and bacteria including E. coli could also harm the body. Luckily, proper chlorination is the best way and relatively cheap method to kill these bacterial and parasites.
By default, chlorine is an irritant, which is why pool administrators should limit the amount of chlorine they put in the swimming pools. On the other hand, a strong smell of chlorine is most probably not good, since the strong odor is due to chloramines.
Chloramines are usually a by-product of a specific chemical reaction between human sweat, urine as well as chlorine and nitrogen. Other agents usually found in swimming pools that could potentialy cause harmful by-products are saliva, skin participants, cosmetics hair and sunscreens.
Researches say that if you can smell the chlorine in the swimming pool, there might be simply too much of it.
Some studies show that a lot of swimming pools have at least one accidental fecal release per week throughout the summer.
On the other hand, hydrotherapy pools might experience such accidents daily…
Latest research shows how climate change and the immune reaction of an infected individual could potentially affect the long-term dynamics of parasitic infections.
The study by Penn State University, measured the infection dynamics of soil-transmitted parasites commonly found in rabbits in Scotland, every month for 23 years. The results of the study could potentially lead to some new strategies for the treatment as well as the prevention of infections from related parasites in humans, wildlife as well as livestock.
“Our research shows that how we target treatment for parasite infections — not only in wildlife like the rabbits we studied, but also in humans and livestock — will depend on how the climate changes and whether or not the host can mount an effective immune response,” mentioned Isabella Cattadori, a professor of biology at Penn State as well as a research scientist.
Earlier work in Cattadori’s lab had demonstrted that infections from one of the parasite species included in the study are driven by an immune response in the rabbits, but on the other hand, infections from the other parasite species are not at all controlled, even though the rabbit has an immune response to the parasite.
“Over the course of 23 years, we saw clear evidence of climate warming at our study site in Scotland. The warmer climate leads to increases in the number of soil-transmitted parasites in the pastures where the rabbits live because the parasites can survive longer in the soil,” Cattadori quoted. “With more parasites, there is an increased risk of infection, but how this increased risk affects the severity of the infection in the long term depends on the ability of the host to mount an immune response.”
For the parasite that is not controlled by the immune response of the rabbit, the researchers had observed that there was an increase in the intensity of infections in adult rabbits with climate warming. “Because they can’t clear the infection with an immune response, the rabbits accumulate more and more parasites as they age so that older individuals carry most of the infection in the population,” Cattadori said.
For the parasite that is controlled by the immune response of the rabbit, the researchers did not notice long-term increase with climate warming in the strength of infections in the rabbit population overall. Nevertheless, the severity of infection increased in younger rabbits that had not yet developed a very strong immune response.
“Our research shows that as climates continue to change, we will need to tailor our treatment of parasite infections based on whether or not the host can mount an effective immune response,” Cattadori mentioned. “When the immune response of the host can’t control the infection that tool place, treatment should be focused at older individuals simply due to the reason that they carry the most severe infections. When a host’s immune response could actually control the infection, treatment should be aimed at younger people because they are at the greatest risk.“
Intestinal worms have an incredibly bad reputation. The thought of them sneaking around inside our bodies and eating us from the inside is pretty unpleasant. But just 100 years ago, before toilets and running water were commonplace, everybody had regular exposure to intestinal worms. Thanks in part to modern plumbing, people in the industrialized world have now lost almost all of their worms, with the exception of occasional pinworms in some children.
Intestinal worms are properly called “helminths,” which most dictionaries will tell you are parasites. Exploiting their hosts, draining resources, sucking the life out of the body – that’s what parasites do, by definition. Indeed, many helminths, including the porcine tapeworm and the human hookworm, are known to cause disease and even death in the human population. Parasitic worms are still a big problem in some parts of the world.
But for decades, results coming out of lab after lab have shown that some kinds of helminths can be extremely beneficial to their host, and aren’t parasites at all.
These helpful helminths are mutualists, a type of organism that receives benefits from its host, and also provides benefits to the host.
For example, my lab, working with a Duke University colleague, Staci Bilbo, recently showed that the presence of helminths in pregnant rats protects the brains of the rat pups from inflammation. In other words, it seems that mom’s helminths can protect unborn babies. And that is just the tip of the iceberg for what these critters can do.
Worms may help with allergies and multiple sclerosis
Having worms isn’t necessarily bad for you. The largest randomized trial ever performed in human history – involving two million children in India – looked at how helminths affect health in places where humans naturally have them. The study showed that mass treatment with an effective deworming drug did not increase body weight or survival. Shockingly, the helminths didn’t seem to be doing any harm, since getting rid of them didn’t improve health.
So that study seemed to show the absence of harm; could these helminths actively be doing good?
In the past, scientists thought that increases in inflammatory diseases such as hay fever and multiple sclerosis in industrialized societies were due to keeping our created environments too clean. Thus the name “hygiene hypothesis.”
However, the true problem for our health is the loss of biodiversity from our body’s own ecosystem, a condition called “biome depletion.”
Missing mutualistic helminths is a key factor in this, and is apparently a major contributing factor to a very large swath of disease, including allergies and autoimmune conditions.
For instance, helminths have been found to protect laboratory animals from a wide range of allergies and autoimmune conditions. And recent findings suggest that many types of cancer can be reduced by helminths. The idea has been demonstrated by preventing colon cancer in rodents, and it is hoped that it will reduce the burden of cancer in humans by decreasing chronic inflammation, a condition that can give rise to cancer.
In controlled studies in humans, helminths were shown to halt the progression of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis and effectively treat many individuals with inflammatory bowel disease without report of adverse side effects.
How do worms work with our immune system?
The idea that helminths can help us with a wide range of inflammatory diseases that plague modern society makes a lot of sense when considering the science behind how helminths interact with our immune system.
Helminths have been a part of the ecosystem of the body for so many millions of years that they have become an integral part of that system. Mutualistic helminths help regulate immune function, stimulating our body to build regulatory networks of immune cells that decrease general inflammation without hurting our immune system’s ability to respond to danger. In addition, these helminths produce their own array of anti-inflammatory molecules and give our immune systems much needed exercise, all of which decreases inflammation.
And a recent study showed that the addition of helminths to laboratory rodents dramatically changed the balance of the gut ecosystem, shifting the bacteria in the gut toward a much healthier balance.
With these factors in mind, it would be hard to understand if missing our helminths did not cause health problems.
My laboratory began work a few years ago looking at the sociology of “helminthic therapy,” the use of helminths to treat disease. Working with Janet Wilson, a sociologist at the University of Central Arkansas, we found that thousands of people are using helminths to self-treat a vast array of inflammation-related conditions, from inflammatory bowel disease to hay fever to multiple sclerosis to migraine headaches.
At the moment, there is no helminth approved for medical use by the FDA, and we found that people generally obtain their organisms from one of a few companies that sell expensive and often unregulated products, which can be risky.
Part of our study included a survey of helminth users, and most people filling out the survey reported that helminths treated their inflammatory conditions more effectively and with fewer side effects than did pharmaceuticals.
We also found that some “self-treaters” are the using a helminth called the rat tapeworm (Hymenolepis diminuta), which sounds truly disgusting. However, people are using this helminth because it is inexpensive and easy to produce, and may provide a very effective treatment for a range of inflammation-related diseases, including migraine headaches and depression. People eat them and report that about 30 worms per month does the job, although the number varies depending on the individual.
After being swallowed and passed into the small intestine, the tiny worms almost certainly hatch out of their jelly-like capsule that has protected them since they first hatched from an egg. At that point, they begin to interact with the immune system, reducing inflammation like any other helminth.
But then, with rare exceptions, they vanish mysteriously, never maturing into adults and producing eggs. Because rat tapeworms don’t colonize our intestines the way that some other types of helminths do, an individual needs frequent exposure to have them in their bodies consistently.
The rat tapeworm has been used in the laboratory for decades and blocks experimentally induced colitis in mice more effectively than daily immunosuppression with steroids. In fact, this is the same helminth we use in my lab to protect the developing brains of rat pups from inflammation. But no researchers have ever studied using rat tapeworms on humans to treat disease.
Why aren’t helminths catching on?
While work in labs, and our own research on people self-treating with helminths is promising, the safety and effectiveness of helminths needs to evaluated in more clinical trials. But perhaps the single greatest barrier to the widespread use of helminths as treatment in humans is the availability of an affordable and effective FDA-approved helminth to the medical community.
We have FDA-approved live maggots and leeches, both of which are extremely effective, but we have no effective and safe helminth approved for use.
Perhaps the horrible reputation of helminths has deterred us from taking helminths seriously as a treatment? But we can’t let the ick factor intestinal worms may initially inspire hold us back from further research. Intense and systematic effort needs to be focused on the production of quality helminths. We need to proceed with the domestication of helminths for the benefit of humankind.