Research

Vaccines for a worm infected population

To avoid their expulsion, parasitic worms suppress our immune system. As a result, they can also attenuate the immune response to vaccinations.

Worm-infected mice respond to a single vaccination against malaria with fewer specific immune cells (CD8+ T-cells) that produce interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor-necrosis factor (TNF). Killing of infected cells is reduced.
Worm-infected mice respond to a single vaccination against malaria with fewer specific immune cells (CD8+ T-cells) that produce interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and tumor-necrosis factor (TNF). Killing of infected cells is reduced. Only a combined vaccination causes a sufficiently strong response in worm-infected mice (Illustration: Minka Breloer).

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.

 


Kolbaum J. et al., Eur J Immunol 2012, 42:890-900.

Julia Kolbaum, Susanne Tartz, Wiebke Hartmann, Andreas Nagel, Volker Heussler, Thomas Jacobs, Minka Breloer, and cooperation partners (see publication)