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To avoid their expulsion, parasitic worms suppress our immune system. As a result, they can also attenuate the immune response to vaccinations.
Mice carrying chronic worm infections (Litomosoides sigmodontis) but not transient ones (Strongyloides ratti) have been found to poorly respond to a single vaccination against the liver stage of malaria parasites. Compared to healthy mice, they produced fewer immune cells able to destroy malaria-infected liver cells. In contrast, a combined vaccination applying the vaccine first in attenuated bacteria and subsequently as a purified protein was equally effective in both groups. In tropical countries where worms and malaria infections occur simultaneously, vaccination campaigns should take this into account.
Julia Kolbaum, Susanne Tartz, Wiebke Hartmann, Andreas Nagel, Volker Heussler, Thomas Jacobs, Minka Breloer, and cooperation partners (see publication)