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Dr. Eleonora SchönherrPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-269
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Julia HäberleinPresse- & ÖffentlichkeitsarbeitPhone: +49 40 42818-264
Mail: presse(at)bnitm.de

Mast Cells as Effectors, Not Regulators of the Defence Against Intestinal Worms

Nearly one third of the world’s population is infected with parasitic worms. The worm Strongyloides ratti parasitizes in the intestines of rats. Laboratory mice are also susceptible and serve as a model for human infections. Like in humans, larvae of S. rattiinvade through the skin and may migrate through connective tissues and the lung to the intestine where they develop into adult worms.

Intestinal mucosa with two mast cells (arrows). The highly specialised immune cells are characterised by inclusion bodies (granules), which contain alkaline histamine stained in dark blue (Toluidine stain) while the mucosa appears in light blue. Long protrusions serving to increase the mucosal surface for better absorption of nutrients are characteristic for the small intestine.
Intestinal mucosa with two mast cells (arrows). The highly specialised immune cells are characterised by inclusion bodies (granules), which contain alkaline histamine stained in dark blue (Toluidine stain) while the mucosa appears in light blue. Long protrusions serving to increase the mucosal surface for better absorption of nutrients are characteristic for the small intestine.

We have previously shown that basophils and mast cells, highly specialised innate immune cells present in blood and tissues, respectively, essentially contribute to the control of S. ratti. By studying the infection of mice, in which these cells had been depleted generally or specifically in connective tissues, we now found that mast cells are indeed indispensible for the expulsion of adult worms from the intestine but play no superior role in the general regulation of the immune response against these worms.


Reitz M. et al., Mucosal Immunol 2017, 10:481-492

Martina Reitz, Marie-Luise Brunn, Minka Breloer and external cooperation partners (see publication)