Suppression of type 2 immunity and allergic airway inflammation by secreted products of the helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus


Full correspondence Dr. Rick M. Maizels, Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, University of Edinburgh, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK

Fax: +44-131 650 5450



Allergic asthma is less prevalent in countries with parasitic helminth infections, and mice infected with parasites such as Heligmosomoides polygyrus are protected from allergic airway inflammation. To establish whether suppression of allergy could be mediated by soluble products of this helminth, we tested H. polygyrus excretory-secretory (HES) material for its ability to impair allergic inflammation. When HES was added to sensitising doses of ovalbumin, the subsequent allergic airway response was suppressed, with ablated cell infiltration, a lower ratio of effector (CD4+CD25+Foxp3) to regulatory (CD4+Foxp3+) T (Treg) cells, and reduced Th1, Th2 and Th17 cytokine production. HES exposure reduced IL-5 responses and eosinophilia, abolished IgE production and inhibited the type 2 innate molecules arginase-1 and RELM-α (resistin-like molecule-α). Although HES contains a TGF-β-like activity, similar effects in modulating allergy were not observed when administering mammalian TGF-β alone. HES also protected previously sensitised mice, suppressing recruitment of eosinophils to the airways when given at challenge, but no change in Th or Treg cell populations was apparent. Because heat-treatment of HES did not impair suppression at sensitisation, but compromised its ability to suppress at challenge, we propose that HES contains distinct heat-stable and heat-labile immunomodulatory molecules, which modulate pro-allergic adaptive and innate cell populations.