Hookworm infections, which cause severe anemia, are considered to be one of the major Neglected Tropical Diseases, affecting 700 million people worldwide. Despite important effort in the eradication of those helminths, current drugs are inefficient at sterilizing the parasite. As a consequence, reinfections are common, thus allowing the infection to persist. The main pathology associated with hookworm infection is anemia and is due to the chronic blood-feeding of the adult parasites throughout many years. One of the main topics of the lab is to understand the interactions occurring between the host cells, the microbiota and the parasitic worms within the intestine. One of our models is Heligmosomoides polygyrus (Hpb) infection. Hpb can remain for weeks within its host. Hence, the effect on the microbiota and the crosstalk with the host is more profound. We were already able to show that microbiota from Hpb-infected mice alone can replicate the protection against asthma induced by Hpb infection in mice. We are currently studying the impact of the microbiota on the worms during the course of the infection. To do so, we used primarily antibiotics treated mice which have a dramatically reduced intestinal microbiota. We know that in such situation the worm infection is more efficient which is mainly due to changes in the intestinal physiology. Interestingly, when mice are infected once and the worm is cleared with drugs to induce a protection against future infection (i.e. secondary infection), the protection is lost in absence of microbiota. The project will consist in investigating the immune response against Hpb infection during secondary infection in absence of microbiota. This would involve the analysis of intestinal tissue-associated immune cells as well as the role of the microbiota during the secondary infection. The techniques involved in the project are broad as it would require animal infection model, histology and imaging, FACS analysis, ELISA, qRT-PCR and more.
helminth, microbiota, type 2 immunity, intestine
Central Clinical School » Immunology and Pathology
Alfred Centre, The Alfred Hospital