Helminthic therapy: Improving mucosal barrier function

Martin J. Wolff, Mara J. Broadhurst, P'ng Loke

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The epidemiology of autoimmune diseases and helminth infections led to suggestions that helminths could improve inflammatory conditions, which was then tested using animal models. This has translated to clinical investigations aimed at the safe and controlled reintroduction of helminthic exposure to patients suffering from autoimmune diseases (so-called 'helminthic therapy') in an effort to mitigate the inflammatory response. In this review, we summarize the results of recent clinical trials of helminthic therapy, with particular attention to mechanisms of action. Whereas previous reviews have emphasized immune regulatory mechanisms activated by helminths, we propose that enhancement of mucosal barrier function may have an equally important role in improving conditions of inflammatory bowel diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-194
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Parasitology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Helminthic therapy
  • IL-22
  • IL-4
  • Immune regulation
  • Microbiome
  • Mucosal immunity
  • Mucus
  • T 2 response

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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